By Simon Wilson, senior solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors
It seems quite inconceivable that a patient could wrongly be told they have a form of cancer by an experienced surgeon, and then undergo surgery to remove it, when in fact they didn’t have cancer at all.
Being told you have cancer is a life-changing moment for patients and their loved ones. In the moment patients are told, their life changes for ever.
It is perhaps for that reason that many doctors often find themselves facing criticism for not diagnosing cancer early enough.
Doctors often look for other reasons for unexplained illness first, before worrying a patient with the thought that cancer could well be the cause.
In our work at as medical negligence compensation specialists at Hudgell Solicitors, it is common for us to handle cases in which cancer has not been spotted early enough by GPs or hospital doctors, as a failure to diagnose at an early stage can hugely impact on the effectiveness of treatment for the patient.
Much rarer however is the situation which has emerged at the Heart of England NHS Trust today, where 170 men, all of whom were patients of prostate surgeon Dr Arackal Manu Nair, have been recalled following an internal investigation.
It has been alleged that one man was operated on who did not have cancer, while another was left incontinent and infertile.
He reportedly underwent laser treatment by Mr Manu Nair in 2012, but said another urologist later told him he was “misled to some extent that this was aggressive cancer”.
“My whole way of life has changed and being told that I can no longer have children is just soul-destroying,” the patient says in a report by the BBC today.
It is certainly shocking and no surprise that Mr Manu Nair was suspended after hospital bosses asked the Royal College of Surgeons to independently review his surgical practices.
Heart of England NHS Trust, which runs Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, shared concerns with private hospitals, Spire Parkway in Solihull and BMI The Priory in Birmingham, and has apologised for the distress caused.
But for the 170 patients now facing that recall, the distress has not ended. How many more will today be wondering whether they too have gone through surgery they in fact did not need?
Have they been wrongly worried, and have operations they undergone impacted on their future lives, and their families, unnecessarily?
Whatever the outcome, it is an unacceptable position for these patients to be in.
Serious questions have to be asked as to how this surgeon, and his practices, were not questioned earlier, and clear lessons must be learned as to how similar situations can be avoided in the future.
Should anyone need support from experts with vast experience in handling cases of medical negligence with understanding, sympathy and compassion, our team at Hudgell Solicitors can be contacted for a free initial consultation, contact Hudgell Solicitors on 0808 231 6068 for free advice or email us.