Delay in diagnosis of a parotid gland tumour

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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Mrs A presented to the Queen Alexandra Hospital with a two year history of intermittent vertigo with tinnitus on the right side in the early 1990s. She was reviewed again approximately four years later with headache and facial pain which was causing her significant problems. She was told if these problems continued she would need a CT scan. These problems did persist but unfortunately she was not reassessed at that time. Mrs A continued to have right sided facial problems for the next few years. She attended her GP at least once or twice a year and was felt to have infections and symptoms related to ear infections.

In 2011 Mrs A was referred to the Queen Alexandra Hospital. Her continual problems with tinnitus and a history of deafness were considered in the clinic. It was felt that she required a hearing aid. She was also advised to have grommet surgery which she did. Unfortunately, she continued to have facial pain on and off again over the next two years.

In 2013 Mrs A had an ultrasound scan of her neck which was deemed normal. It was felt she might have an upper tooth infection that had been causing her problems with tenderness in the neck and the right side of her face. She was advised to put cotton wool in her ears before showering.

Mrs A was passed between various departments of the Queen Alexandra Hospital. Her pain was getting worse and she was suffering from related problems such as having difficulty when chewing and shooting pains in her jaw. She was prescribed a different type of painkiller.

In early 2014 Mrs A attended the Trust again. Her ongoing right jaw pain and numbness was noted. She was told to come back in six months. However, she insisted on having an MRI scan as the pain was becoming unbearable. She was booked for such a scan a few weeks later and diagnosed with a with a large right parotid gland tumour. She had a biopsy and then was referred to London for major surgery. At this point it was noted that the tumour had spread up into her brain.

Following the surgery Mrs A had chemotherapy and continued to suffer the consequences of a large tumour with a delayed diagnosis.

Mrs A contacted Patricia Wakeford from BL Claims Solicitors and investigations were commenced. Expert evidence confirmed that the tumour should have been diagnosed some years before it was.  The Trust did admit that there had been a delay in diagnosis of the parotid gland tumour which had led to the extension of the tumour to the brain and had also led to the very sad death of Mrs A 21 months following diagnosis. With earlier diagnosis the expert evidence stated that she would not have died at that time as the tumour she had was a very slow growing type and would not have had the time to spread to the brain.

Mrs A's family accepted the settlement of a six figure sum to bring the claim to an end without the need to issue court proceedings. They have found it very hard to cope with the fact that their mother had been in this much pain and should have been diagnosed much sooner than she was.

Please contact Patricia Wakeford at BL Claims Solicitors if you have any questions about this case summary on 023 8085 7310 or email

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About the Author

Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
Email Patricia
023 8085 7310

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