Clerical Errors

John Bennett
John Bennett

Published: February 9th, 2022

7 min read

The Times reported last week that a child was fighting for his life after a clerical error caused a delay in diagnosing a brain tumour.

Eight year old Alexander Josephs mother described how she woke up in the middle of the night in September 2020 to find her son having a major seizure. He was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and was referred for routine MRI and EEG brain scan. The scan did not take place until two months later. As a result of a clerical error, there was a further delay in providing the results. Just before Christmas, Alexander had another seizure and lost movement on one side of his body. He was rushed back to the hospital.

"The A&E doctor went to look [for the results] and said 'he has a brain tumour'." When they contacted the paediatrician who originally saw Alexander, they claimed that he apologised and admitted to a clerical error.

There was then a further delay because ICU was being deployed for Covid patients".

Alexander had ten-hour brain surgery to remove the tumour in March but a few weeks later it had grown back.

The hospital are now investigating the case.

Back in October 2021 the Health Care Safety Investigation Branch issued a report that about 20% of lung cancers are missed resulting in a delay in diagnosis.

Tragically this case is another example of how things can go wrong in the NHS. Hopefully lessons will be learned and Alexander will make a good recovery.

Failing to expedite the scan and follow up the results could be considered negligent. However, Alexander would have to prove the delay has made a difference to the treatment he has had to endure and the overall outcome. He may well have needed an operation in any event. Whether it would have been less invasive or would have produced better outcome would be a matter for expert medical opinion. As a general rule, anything that interferes with the brain whether it be a tumour, or a bleed, usually needs dealing with quickly to avoid further damage.

Here at Forbes our specialist clinical negligence team have experience of dealing with these types of cases. If you, a friend or loved one have been the unfortunate enough to suffer a misdiagnosis or delay in treatment as a result of a hospital please contact one of the team for some No-win, no fee, no obligation advice.

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