Hundreds of patients affected by negligent breast surgery
“Cleavage Sparing” Mastectomies Performed In the Birmingham Area
Caroline Moore explains the implications for patients following the procedures performed by Ian Paterson and the importance of understanding your diagnosis from the doctor.
There were 573 women under the care of Ian Paterson, on whom mastectomy procedures were performed from 1998 to 2011. They form part of a group of patients in excess of 700 treated by the consultant surgeon, now being contacted with a view to them having their treatment reassessed.
Mr Paterson treated patients as a breast cancer surgeon for the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, while also performing procedures at private clinics in both the Sutton Coldfield and Solihull areas just outside Birmingham. However, he has this summer been barred from performing any further breast surgeries by the General Medical Council.
The ban stems from the nature of the procedures that Mr Paterson was performing on his patients. The experimental procedure has been dubbed, “cleavage sparing”, as it involved some breast tissue being left behind, for cosmetic reasons alone.
Despite the fact that he had been told by the trust to stop using the treatment method in 2007. Mr Paterson continued to perform many more of these procedures. As a result, hundreds of Mr Paterson’s patients have now been contacted out of fears that they may now need further cancer screening and further treatment.
There is a possibility that patients who were believed to no longer be at risk of cancer still have cancerous cells in their body, especially as some patients are concerned that the surgeon continued to use the same technique as recently as 2009.
From a clinical negligence perspective, a question that I would ask is in relation to the validity of the consent to undergo surgery that patients have given if they were not informed of the “experimental” nature of the surgery. Over 50 cases of negligence have been considered in relation to their treatment and the possibility of the patients’ cancer returning. There is a risk that the amount of time that has passed will affect the future prognosis of some of the patients involved.
Metastatic cancer (that has spread from where it first started to another place in the body) is one potential outcome if cells are left untreated; while breast cancer in particular is known to spread to the liver, lungs, bones and even the brain. The location of the cancer in a person’s body is one of the factor’s which a doctor will consider in their medical prognosis.
In cases such as this, where there is a possibility that cancer cells have been found in breast tissue which has not been wholly removed (and then left for a significant period of time) there is a risk that the stage of the cancer has been able to progress in addition to the cancer spreading.
With early detection being such a crucial element of cancer treatment, it is important for both men and women to check themselves regularly for lumps or anything out of the ordinary; and to contact your GP if you have any concerns.
If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer, understanding the specific type of cancer can make all the difference in addressing the situation and considering the different treatments available to address it. Read more about Breast Cancer medical claims here.