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Hospital gets cancer diagnosis wrong
1:30pm Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
IMAGINE looking at hymns for your funeral believing you may only have three to six months to live.
That was the situation facing grandma Joan Callaghan, from Lower Walton, who claims a doctor told her he was ‘95 per cent sure’ she was suffering from cancer of the gall bladder.
In scenes similar to cancer patient Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, the 61-year-old said she had started to think of ways to make her death easier for her family before finding out three weeks later it was nothing more than inflammation.
The recently retired business consultant said she felt disbelief when she was told it was not cancer in January this year and has been stunned she has still not had an apology from Warrington Hospital.
Joan added: “It was absolutely awful getting news like that.
“The doctor said in his experience it was cancer and rather than moving wards I should go home and spend time with my family then he came back a bit later and said it might not be cancer after all.
“I was so confused and when he rang with the biopsy test results I was gobsmacked and didn’t know whether to believe him or not.
“I cried my eyes out again but I didn’t trust him at all.”
Joan said one of the hardest things was her family having to deal with the news including her husband of 39 years Brian, son and her three-year-old granddaughter.
A letter of complaint was sent to the hospital In February this year, which also included issues surrounding cleanliness in the hospital, but so far Joan has had no response apart from letters asking if she wanted to continue with the complaint.
She added: “I wonder how many people have genuine complaints that don’t come to any conclusion because they give up.
“The NHS do not make it easy to complain at all and I hope the hospital can learn from this so others can be protected.
“Three weeks of my life have gone thinking about dying and not being here.
“The cancer I thought I had would have meant I only had three to six months to live.
“I can’t believe I’ve not had an apology after that.”
A hospital spokesman said: “We are sorry for the delay in replying to Mrs Callaghan and have now provided a full response to her complaint. However, the staff involved do not agree with the recollections made around diagnosis and feel that they managed the care in this case professionally, honestly and in line with best practice.
“Whenever a scan finds a potential problem, we try to be honest about all the possible causes and talk to the patient about them without causing excessive concern, but would not give a definite diagnosis of a condition such as cancer until further tests have been carried out that would clinically confirm it. In this case, further opinions and tests were swiftly organised to help provide a diagnosis.
“Sometimes it takes time to investigate complaints of a complex nature and we strive to provide a final response within a maximum of six months. We were not able to do this is this case and apologise for the delay but had been in contact with Mrs Callaghan to acknowledge and then to update on the status of the complaint since it was originally made. We’d be happy to arrange to meet to discuss the response.”
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