Cornwall

Cancer patient not told disease was terminal

Royal Cornwall Hospital Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust says it was "extremely sorry" for the failings in the man's case

Serious failings in a cancer patient's care meant he missed out on saying goodbye to his son before he died, an investigation has found.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said the man, named only as Mr W, was initially misdiagnosed and then not told his cancer was terminal.

The ombudsman said the failings had caused "huge emotional distress" and should not be repeated.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust has apologised to Mr W's wife.

The ombudsman said Mr W was first referred to hospital for a chest X-ray in March 2015 but a separate company, 4Ways Healthcare, incorrectly reported the results.

In April Mr W was referred for a CT scan that suggested he was suffering from lung cancer.

'Failings were avoidable'

The ombudsman's report said: "The trust was aware by this point that Mr W's cancer was inoperable, however, they did not inform him."

Mr W began treatment but died on 14 November 2015 after the cancer spread to other parts of his body.

The ombudsman investigated after Mr W's wife made a complaint and concluded there was no evidence the trust informed Mr W of his prognosis.

As a result, the ombudsman said, his son also lost the opportunity to see his father before he died.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: "Mr W passed away having been unable to make an informed choice about his treatment and his family were not given the opportunity to properly say goodbye to him.

"The failings in this case were avoidable, caused huge emotional distress, and must not be repeated."

Bernadette George, from Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said the case had changed "the way we handle any situation where a misdiagnosis comes to light".

She added: "We let both the patient and their family down with our lack of openness and poor communication. We are extremely sorry for this and the additional distress it caused."

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