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Women died from cervical cancer after being wrongfully excluded from cervical screening list

A small number of women died from cervical cancer after they were wrongfully excluded from the NHS cervical cancer screening list.

In 2021, it was revealed around 430 women who had partial hysterectomies were wrongly told they didn't need to be screened for cervical cancer in Scotland. A full hysterectomy involves the removal of the cervix meaning there is no further need for cervical cancer screening.

However, sometimes a hysterectomy is performed where part or all of the cervix remains, and those women should remain on the screening programme if they are within the eligible age range. Some women were recorded as having had a full hysterectomy in error when actually only a sub-total or partial hysterectomy was performed.

After discovering the error, an urgent audit was carried out to invite all women, who could have potentially been excluded incorrectly, to a cervical screening. Further incorrect exclusions were possible and it is expected about 13,000 patients will require further medical investigation. In light of this, a wider audit of 150,000 women who have had subtotal hysterectomies has now been launched.

A spokesperson from the Scottish government said: "The risk to those who have been excluded is low and it is very much a precautionary step as the overwhelming majority of exclusions will be correct.”

Lesley Herbertson, partner in our clinical negligence team, said:

“In the UK, we have the benefit of screening programmes which intend to reassure patients or to detect cancers at very early stages. However, such screening programmes need to be very well managed to avoid individuals and their cancers being missed. Criteria for inclusion have to be comprehensive and failsafe systems in place to ensure no person fulfilling the criteria miss their screening reviews.”

Lesley secured over £200,000 secured in compensation our client after she received a delay in diagnosing breast cancer. It was admitted by the Defendant Trust that systemic failures were to blame for missed opportunities to monitor the breast health with regular surveillance mammograms. As a result of the delay, our client was diagnosed with an invasive ductal carcinoma for which she required surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Read the full case study here: Over £200,000 secured in compensation for a delay in diagnosing breast cancer 

Lesley Herbertson is a Partner in clinical negligence here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about amputation as a result of clinical negligence or indeed any other aspect of clinical negligence and wish to speak to Lesley or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Lesley directly.

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