Making a Compensation Claim For the Late Diagnosis of a Brain Tumour

Brain tumours

During my career as a solicitor specialising brain injury, I have seen at first-hand significant advances made, to the benefit of those who suffer an acquired brain injury and their families. Such improvements in medicine and rehabilitation techniques following brain injury have resulted in increased life expectancy and improved quality of life, so much so that many people are able to live independent lives and return to work.

Unfortunately, like everything in life, there is an exception and the exception in this case is brain tumours. It is astonishing that little progress has been made in the last 40 years, either in the timely diagnosis of brain tumour, or of the treatment. The consequence is that for many the outlook is poor.  This is far from satisfactory but fortunately this scandal – and it is exactly that, a scandal- has been exposed following an e-petition started by Maria Lester. The petition called for increased funding into brain tumours, described as the biggest killer of the under 40’s.

The full text of the e-petition read as follows.

“Brain tumours kill more children and adults under 40 than any other cancer. One of those young lives lost was my brother Stephen, who was diagnosed at just 19 and died aged 26. More funding for research is urgently needed - read on for some shocking statistics from the charity Brain Tumour Research:

Unlike most cancers, brain cancer incidence is rising; less than 20% of those diagnosed with brain cancer survive beyond 5 years; in 2014, brain tumours received 1.5% (£7.7 million) of the £498 million national spend on research into cancer. At this rate, it could take 100 years to catch up with developments in other diseases.

The charity is calling on the Government and larger cancer charities to raise investment to £30-£35 million a year, and this petition aims to support its campaign".

The consequence of a lack of funding prevents research into understanding the causes of brain tumour, training of health professionals, treatment to address the consequences and research to find cures for the effects. One of the universal complaints in respect of brain tumour is the failure to diagnose at an early stage. The House of Commons Petitions Committee Funding for Research into Brain Tumours, of March 2016, is full of personal testimonies of families who have complained about the delay in diagnosis and misdiagnosis of their loved ones, thereby giving them less chance of treatment that may save and improve the quality of their lives. 

Why the symptoms of a brain tumour are often over-looked

The Committee heard that diagnosis of brain tumours was difficult and people were often, initially, misdiagnosed. The symptoms described included: headaches, fits, dizziness and back pain, hiccups, numb fingers, flu-like symptoms, a “funny smell” and déjà vu.  The full range of misdiagnoses was equally varied – from stress, depression and hormone problems, to epilepsy, poor eyesight and vertigo.

The only way to confirm if someone has a brain tumour is to undertake scan, which will not be routinely obtained due to uncertainty over diagnosis and cost. 

From the personal accounts the families complained of a lack of knowledge among health professionals. The first point of contact is frequently the GP although their awareness is poor, as evidenced by the frightening figure of 60-70% of patients having their diagnosis made in Accident and Emergency departments.   Whilst families are recognising the problem, GPs are not.

Clearly more funding needs to be provided by the Government, but until there is a dramatic increase in research and training, many people will suffer due to late and misdiagnosis. Without such funding we will see more cases like Lucy Goulding and Levi Ringer. Such tragedies should be sufficient encouragement for politicians to improve the current state of affairs but in the interim, if you are concerned about symptoms that indicate brain tumour, seek an early diagnosis and ask for referral to hospital for a brain scan.

Obtaining compensation for the late diagnosis of a brain tumour

With vast experience in the field of serious injuries, particularly brain injury, Malcolm Underhill understands the complexity and severity of a brain tumour. That’s why we’ll always work to ensure that you get the care, support and compensation you deserve.  We are also able to provide advice on conveyancing, (if a new property requires purchasing),  employment advice (if there are difficulties returning to work) and advice on appointing someone to act on the individual’s behalf (Court of Protection) if they are unable to do so themselves.  If the person’s behaviour causes marital discord and or challenging behaviour, our family and criminal lawyers are on hand to provide additional assistance. For more information or to speak to Malcolm Underhill to begin your claim, please call us on 0333 123 9099 or email enquiries@ibbclaims.co.uk