KGH admin cock-up delayed woman's breast cancer treatment by ONE YEAR

Leigh Kingdon took legal action against the hospital after her scan was wrongly filed as no further action

Thursday, 28th May 2020, 6:00 am

A woman's breast cancer treatment was delayed by a year - after Kettering General Hospital wrongly filed her scan results as needing no further action.

Leigh Kingdon, 41, went for an MRI scan at the Rothwell Road hospital in March 2018 because genetic factors meant she was at high risk of breast cancer.

It picked up a lump on her right breast and said she should be called back for further assessment, but a member of the hospital's admin team incorrectly closed the case as normal on a database.

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Leigh Kingdon with nieces seven-year-old Brooke Valentine (left) and six-year-old Skye Valentine (right).

And a letter sent by an oncologist to the hospital's breast team in July to follow up the report was "never received" - meaning the tumour was not detected until a year later when the former carer from Higham Ferrers returned for a mammogram.

Fortunately the delay in diagnosis did not cause the cancer to spread to the lymph nodes. Now she has reached a settlement after the trauma of the mistake left her feeling suicidal and the hospital has apologised.

She said: "I was shocked when they told me they could see the cancer in 2018 and I cried my eyes out there and then.

"I don't think it was the fact I had cancer, it was because I was basically walking around with a ticking time-bomb inside me.

Kettering General Hospital.

"At one stage I was thinking about taking my own life."

The 2019 mammogram found Leigh, who has previously beaten ovarian cancer and kidney cancer, had a tumour on her right breast and a suspicious lump on her left breast.

When compared with previous images it soon became clear to the hospital the earlier abnormal findings had not been acted upon.

Two months later Miss Kingdon had a right mastectomy because of the 52mm tumour and a precautionary left mastectomy because of her increased genetic risk, which she would have had to have had in 2018 had the scan been correctly reported on.

Leigh Kingdon said the mistake left her feeling suicidal.

KGH's medical director, Prof Andrew Chilton, said the hospital has put in new measures and checks to make sure their administrative process is robust.

He said: “We investigated what went wrong in this case in great detail and have looked at ways to strengthen our administration processes so that it cannot happen again.

“We now have additional measures and checks in place and our administrative process is comprehensive and robust.

“We have been open and transparent under our duty of candour processes in keeping Miss Kingdon informed of the progress of our investigation and staff from the unit have met with Miss Kingdon on many occasions to discuss it and to apologise.

“Our investigation into her delay in care was performed with the full knowledge and involvement of the screening commissioners and national screening and quality assurance service.”

But Miss Kingdon, who came forward after reading about Steve Sampson's negligence claim over the death of his father in the Northants Telegraph, said she no longer trusts the hospital.

She said: "They do not realise how much this has mentally damaged me. I'm seeing a psychologist. I don't like going out. It's changed me.

"I don't trust them. I go in and they tell me these tests are clear and I just think back to 2018 when they told me I was fine when I wasn't.

"I sit there thinking 'have they got it right this time?'"

"You should trust them because they have your life in their hands. But I don't."

Miss Kingdon said she fears others may suffer from a similar mistake and has made a complaint to the General Medical Council.

She added that she still has physical pain after her treatment and that the money the hospital has paid her is an "insult" to her suffering.

She described the pain of her nieces and nephews being scared of her after treatment.

She said: "I thought I was never going to see my nieces and nephews grow up."

"They were scared of me. I was devastated. They were always cuddly kids and we loved cuddling but they didn't want to come near me.

"Every time I went back to the hospital they thought I was going to die."

Prof Chilton said: “We, once again, offer our profound and sincere apologies to Miss Kingdon for the administrative errors which led to the delay in her appropriate follow-up treatment.

“Our investigation has shown this was an unfortunate and isolated incident. We are very sorry for all of the great distress and concern this must have caused for her and her family.

“Once the delay came to light we acted swiftly and appropriately to ensure Miss Kingdon had all of the necessary and appropriate treatment and follow-on care and support."