Brief background

We have been acting for a client (aged 58) in connection with a clinical negligence claim against Dr HK arising from private dermatological treatment received during 2016.

Briefly, in October 2016 she attended a private Dermatherapy Clinic with a lump on the right side bridge of her nose near her eye. A basal cell carcinoma close to the eye was suspected.

Our client underwent a punch biopsy at the Dermatherapy Clinic and the sample was sent for pathology.

The diagnosis following pathology was confirmation of the existence of basal cell carcinoma.

Our client did not receive any further treatment at the Dermatherapy Clinic neither was she referred back to her GP nor to a specialist dermatology department.

Dr HK did not make any long term plans for follow-up nor did he advise our client of the need for vigilance at the site of the carcinoma.

Our client did not have any further treatment for the lesion at the site until 2019 when following an attendance at her GP surgery she was referred to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust with a suspected high risk skin malignancy. The referral indicated that our client had had a basal cell carcinoma excised privately and following consideration in the dermatology clinic of Worcestershire Acute Hospital our client was diagnosed with a recurrent basal cell carcinoma of the right inner canthus ie. the same site as that excised in October 2016.

Our client underwent a course of treatment throughout 2020 and 2021 which successfully removed the basal cell carcinoma completely. Expert medical evidence is to the effect that the basal cell carcinoma is exceedingly unlikely to recur.

Although the basal cell carcinoma has been removed, our client has been left with an extensive area of scarring and distortion of the skin resulting in an extremely unsightly and unnatural appearance which is impossible to disguise with cosmetics or makeup.

Expert opinion was obtained from a Consultant Dermatologist who expressed the view that the treatment received at the clinic of Dr HK in October 2016 was negligent in that, inter alia, the treatment had not resulted in the removal of the basal cell carcinoma present in October 2016, that our client was not referred to a specialist Dermatological Clinic for follow-up nor advised to be vigilant in the future. Some three years later when our client sought further treatment the basal cell carcinoma was rapidly identified and on the balance of probabilities expert evidence is to the effect that the lesion had been incompletely removed by Dr HK in 2016 and that consequently the lesion identified in 2019 was an incomplete removal.

As a consequence of the failings identified above, expert opinion went on to conclude that the extent of surgery required in 2019/2020 and beyond was more extensive than would otherwise have been required had treatment continued in 2016 and/or 2017, the reconstruction required would have been much more limited, and our client would not have been left with the unsightly scarring and skin distortion referred to above. As a consequence of the events set out above, our client suffered psychological trauma developing stress symptoms and a generalised anxiety disorder. Psychological expert opinion was to the effect that our client had suffered stress related symptoms for a period of 31 months and such were ongoing but with CBT would improve to pre-incident levels by the end of psychological therapy.

Legal case

Having obtained supportive expert opinion on breach of duty and causation, a formal Letter of Claim was prepared and sent to Dr HK which he referred to his solicitors. Although Dr HK did not formally admit liability he indicated that he was willing to consider entering into settlement negotiations with our client. Condition and prognosis evidence was obtained along with evidence of financial loss sustained by our client as a consequence of the failings identified above and negotiations ensued. A number of offers were exchanged between the parties when eventually the claim was settled.

S J Edney obtained damages for our client of £27,500.00 in 2022

Solicitors comment

This was a far from straightforward claim depending as it did on independent medical expert evidence supporting the claim that Dr HK had been negligent back in October 2016 and that his negligence had caused loss and damage to our client.

The claim was further complicated by the discovery of the fact that Dr HK did not have in place professional indemnity insurance cover which would be expected and indeed required of a medical professional in his position. Notwithstanding the lack of insurance the claim was pursued to a successful conclusion.

If the correct steps had been undertaken back in 2016 and/or 2017 by Dr HK then the lesion and basal cell carcinoma would have been completely excised and our client would not have had to undergo more extensive treatment in 2019 and 2020 with all the associated physical and psychological trauma.

If either you or a family member are unhappy with medical treatment, please contact Mr Edney for advice on making a claim.