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Delay in Cancer Diagnosis: Woman told by Doctors she was ‘in denial’

Charlie Puplett from Yeovil, Somerset, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2020, having vomited blood after clapping for the NHS. However, she had initially expressed concerns to her GP in May 2019, almost a year prior, after experiencing unexplained weight loss and lack of appetite.

Ms Puplett told the BBC that she went to her local doctor’s surgery on several occasions, sharing that she had noticed a change in her bowel habits, seeing a different doctor every time she returned. One GP even suggested that she had anorexia and was ‘in denial’.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) have voiced their concern, expressing that Ms Puplett’s symptoms should have been ‘red flags’ and should have led to urgent testing within two weeks.

The night she vomited blood, almost a year after her first visit to the GP, Ms Puplett was taken to A&E and was diagnosed with colon cancer. As a result of the delay in diagnosis and treatment, she underwent emergency surgery to remove two-thirds of her colon and subsequently had a temporary colostomy bag.

According to the PHSO, if Ms Puplett had been referred and diagnosed when she should have been, the procedure could have been carried out using the far less invasive keyhole method.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “Charlie was failed by the professionals who she went to for help and the effect on her life has been significant.

“Not only did she have to undergo unnecessary surgery, but it has also affected her emotional well-being.

“We cannot change what happened, but it’s important that when mistakes are made, organisations acknowledge what has happened and commit to learning from these mistakes to prevent it from happening again.”

The Ombudsman recommended that the GP surgery compensate Ms Puplett with £2,950 due to the oversight and implement an action plan to ensure such incidents do not reoccur in the future.

Although now in remission, Ms Puplett expressed that she lives in ‘constant fear’ that she would develop other life-threatening illnesses.

Read the full BBC article here.

Delay in Diagnosis of Cancer Claims

Unfortunately, incidents of this nature are not unique due to the current pressures faced by the NHS. That said, no one should endure a delay that has a detrimental effect on their health.

Find out more in our other articles:

If you or a loved one have experienced a delay in diagnosis of cancer, contact our medical negligence team for a no-obligation consultation. 

Our experienced medical negligence solicitors at Bridge McFarland LLP are dedicated to helping clients with claims relating to inadequate care and treatment in both the NHS and private healthcare sectors.

To discuss your concerns with our team, please call 0800 987 8800 or email medneg@bmcf.co.uk.