Waldrons Solicitors recover six figure compensation for man with negligent 8 year delay in diagnosis of Crohn's disease

Tuesday 18th October 2022

Waldrons Solicitors acted on behalf of a man who suffered an eight-year delay in the diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, and was wrongly diagnosed with a different (much rarer) condition, Behcet’s Syndrome.  As a result of the misdiagnosis, our client suffered years of pain and suffering, incorrect treatment and ultimately extensive surgery which we argued should have been avoided.

What happened?

In May 2006 our client saw his GP complaining of rectal bleeding and diarrhoea and was referred to Russells Hall Hospital for further care. He also complained of joint pain in his right elbow, left knee and both ankles.

Our client was seen in clinic, but only limited investigations were arranged. Later that month he attended the Emergency Department at the hospital. He had increasing pain that day and had joint pain with swollen feet, ankles, knees, wrists, hands and right elbow, as well as ulcers over his tongue and a rash on his face and neck.

During the admission, our client was diagnosed with Behcet’s Syndrome Behcet’s Syndrome is a rare inflammatory disorder that causes ulcers affecting the mouth and genitals, skin lesions and abnormalities affecting the eyes.

The joints, blood vessels, central nervous system, and/or digestive tract can also be affected. The exact cause of Behcet’s syndrome is unknown, and it is a relatively rare condition to suffer. In fact, our client was suffering with Crohn’s disease, a far more common condition which causes inflammation of the digestive tract.

For eight years our client was treated for Behcet’s, including with long term steroid use, which he would not have received had he been appropriately diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. In 2014 our client suffered an acute deterioration in his condition, leading to multiple abdominal surgeries being required and him being left with a permanent stoma.

How Waldrons were able to help

Adam Smith, from our Medical Negligence team, was instructed by the client to look into his concerns. Extensive investigations were required in relation to this claim, which included expert witness evidence being obtained from a Consultant Gastroenterologist, a Consultant Rheumatologist and a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon. Following these investigations, the case we put forward was that our client should have been referred for further investigations, in particular a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

A biopsy would have been carried out and a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease would have been made. If diagnosed in 2006, our client would have been treated with steroids and/or other specialist drugs, which would have controlled his symptoms and inflammation.

These drugs would have controlled his symptoms, avoided his deterioration in 2014 and the various complications including development of fistulae and abscesses. He would not have needed the numerous surgeries and would have avoided having a stoma.

Alternatively, if surgery had been required despite the use of these drugs, he would have had elective limited surgery resulting in a left-sided end colostomy rather than the emergency, and more extensive, sub-total colectomy and a right sided colostomy that he in fact had. A left-sided colostomy is easier to manage, better tolerated and carries less risk of complications. He would have avoided leakage and stoma prolapse, would not have sought reversal of the stoma and would have avoided further operations in April 2018.

Our client would also have avoided the risks associated with long-term steroid use, including osteoporosis. The Defendant initially denied liability, stating that it was reasonable to have made the diagnosis and that our client’s outcome would not have been any different if he had been diagnosed earlier with Crohn’s Disease.

Accordingly, we started Court Proceedings and during those proceedings, the Defendant conceded that our client should have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease by the end of 2006, but continued to deny liability, stating that his outcome would not have been any different.

We conducted a ‘roundtable meeting’ (a formal discussion, usually with barristers being involved too) with the Defendant, which resulted in the successful settlement of our client’s claim at a figure of just under £200,000.

What did our client say?

Happy with the result of his claim, our client wrote: ‘I would like to thank Adam Smith for his help in this case and thank you for all your hard work over the years.’

What do I need to do next?

If you have concerns about any medical treatment you have received, please contact one of the Medical Negligence Solicitors at Waldrons where we will provide an initial assessment of the claim free of charge.