Advising with empathy and experience

Damages for failure to follow up on diagnostic tests.


Helen Caulfield of the CNCI team recently secured compensation for a client after a hospital failed to follow up on the findings of a diagnostic test.

 In January 2007 the client started experiencing pain in his abdomen, in October his GP referred him to Scarborough Hospital. The hospital thought it necessary to perform a barium enema, which was done at the end of November 2007. After the enema our client heard nothing from the hospital so he assumed everything was well and tried to continue on with his life despite ongoing pain..

However during a business trip in February 2008 the pain became much worse, it was so painful he was doubled over, so he immediately made an appointment with his family doctor. His GP looked through his notes and asked if he had seen the results from the barium enema.. The GP made a call to Scarborough hospital. The enquiry revealed that something had been detected by the barium enema, but the hospital had accidently filed the notes away, meaning no follow up had taken place.

 He was referred to a consultant who immediately admitted him to hospital. There it was revealed that the barium enema, performed 4 months previously, had revealed that our client was suffering from diverticulitis (a condition where small bulges grow on the colon which then become inflamed).

The delay in treating the diverticulitis had resulted in a peri-colic mass forming on his abdominal wall and bladder. This in turn resulted in a colo-vesicle fistula and the formation of an abscess. A consultant told our client that there was now a hole between his bladder and bowel and surgery would be needed to remove the abscess, clean the area and repair the damage.

After numerous attempts at surgery the abscess was finally removed and In December 2008 the client was finally given the all clear.  It was estimated that the error made by Scarborough Hospital extended the recovery time of our client by an entire year. He has been left with a weak abdominal wall because of the repeated surgeries and he has been told he will develop a hernia in the future. The scar tissue caused by the operation is also very sensitive to light and temperature changes which causes our client considerable discomfort.

Helen Caulfield, the solicitor who settled the claim, said “My client was subjected to an entire year of recovery which could have been easily avoided if the proper filing procedures had been followed. Hopefully he can now move past this incident and continue on with his life.”