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Ex-nurse labelled 'hysterical' after she asked for a breast lump to be removed

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The Daily Mail has this week highlighted the shocking case of a former ward sister who was dismissed by doctors as being ‘hysterical’ when she requested that a breast lump be removed.
In December 2005 Miss Catherine Calland, 65, had a mammogram at the Central Health Clinic, Bristol. She was called back for a biopsy and subsequently informed that a harmless enlarged lymph node had been indentified. Miss Calland had a bad feeling about the lump and asked for it to be removed. Despite her concerns Miss Calland recalls that the nurse, ‘Laughed at me and said that I was “being hysterical about it.”
In 2007 Miss Calland underwent a further mammogram which indicated that the lymph node remained enlarged.  She insisted on the lump being removed and she opted to be treated at a different hospital, Frenchay Hospital (a hospital under the care of North Bristol NHS Trust). It was at Frenchay Hospital that she was subsequently diagnosed with malignant lymphoma.
Around the same time, her treating doctor also carried out a series of tests on the earlier sample taken by the Central Health Clinic and this confirmed that a diagnosis of lymphoma should have been made in 2005. Alarmingly, the Trust decided it was not in Miss Calland’s best interests to inform her of this misdiagnosis until 2010. Miss Calland has described this decision as ‘patronising and insulting.’
After undergoing radiotherapy, Miss Calland has now been informed that the lymphoma has spread around her body and is terminal. Patients with her disease rarely live longer than 10 years, however, earlier treatment could have increased her chances of survival. Miss Calland comments: ‘I am furious about this. If I had undergone the radiology a year before, I might not have cancer now.’
The review of tissue samples was laughed by the Royal College of Pathologists in 2009 following concerns by doctors at the North Bristol NHS Trust. 26 such cases were referred to the Inquiry Panel for investigation and the review indicated that a correct diagnosis was made in just seven cases. Dr Jane Luker, Deputy Medical Director for University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We apologise unreservedly for the cases where patients have come to harm.’
If you have been affected by a delay in diagnosis or treatment, or if you believe that the medical treatment you have received is below a reasonable standard, then we have a dedicated team of clinical negligence solicitors who would be happy to advise you further. Call us for free initial advice on 01616 966 229.