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Woman dies from cervical cancer after symptoms were mistaken for IBS

Posted on 25th March 2022 in Medical Negligence

Posted by

Stuart Bramley

Partner and Solicitor
Woman dies from cervical cancer after symptoms were mistaken for IBS

A recent Daily Mail article describes how Porsche McGregor-Sims died at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth on April 14th 2020 after cancer spread to her lungs, causing breathing problems before she suffered a fatal heart attack.

An inquest into her death at Portsmouth Coroner's Court found that she had been referred to the hospital by her GP after presenting with abdominal pain and bleeding in December 2019.

The gynaecologist, Dr Schlesinger, dismissed the likelihood of her having cancer, and instead told her that the issues could be linked to the side effects of having stopped taking birth control or irritable bowel syndrome.

Ms McGregor-Sims underwent further examinations in early April, when cervical cancer was first suspected. She was referred to the oncology department and later admitted to Queen Alexandra Hospital with 'severely' short breath, caused by the cancer, and sadly died a day later on April 14 2020.

Doctors told the inquest that Ms McGregor-Sims should have been properly examined by Dr Schlesinger and, if her cancer had been diagnosed, then she may have lived for several more months. The family said Ms McGregor-Sims had requested a second opinion in January, describing it as 'very out of character for her to complain', but she felt she was 'not listened to.'

Dr Claire Burton, a consultant gynaecologist at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, apologised for the care she received at the trust, saying “If [Dr Scheslinger] had examined her [in late January] then she would have been referred for a colposcopy more quickly, where diagnosis would have been made.”

Giving a narrative verdict, Area Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp told the court “It’s not clear that a referral in January would have altered the tragic outcome, but an earlier diagnosis would have allowed more time for her and her family to prepare themselves.”

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust says it reviewed protocols following Porsche's case, which had led to the trust deciding not to employ any locum doctors in the future and instead hire more in-house consultants.

 

Partner and Solicitor Stuart Bramley, co-head of our specialist Medical Negligence team commented;

"Given the story here I am not surprised the Coroner was so critical; nor that other patients seen by the consultant gynaecologist involved have been re-examined by other doctors. Not examining a woman with these symptoms, and automatically dismissing cancer as a possible diagnosis, was shocking enough - but this was only a few years after a routine smear had identified abnormal cervical cells.  No matter what action is taken now it cannot bring Ms McGregor-Sims back but at least the steps outlined should make this hospital a safer one. But it is terrible that someone had to die in order for those changes to be effected". 

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