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Doctor (GP) Negligence

Chemotherapy Patient Gets Lymphoedema

While undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, Sian had to have regular blood tests. She was told not to allow her GP to take blood from her left arm as lymph nodes had been removed on this side. However, her GP ignored this request, causing Sian to develop permanent lymphoedema.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Sian underwent two lumpectomies to her left breast, during which lymph nodes were removed from under her left arm.

Following this surgery, Sian was told she needed six cycles of chemotherapy treatment. The day prior to each cycle she had to attend her GP surgery for a blood test to ensure that her blood count was high enough to have chemotherapy.

Before starting the first cycle of chemo, Sian's specialist doctor at the hospital said her left arm should not be touched for medical purposes as this was the side of the lymph node dissection. This included things such as blood tests or even taking blood pressure.

During Sian's first blood test, she told her GP that she could not have blood taken from her left arm. The GP dismissed this concern, but did take blood from the right arm, as requested. The GP's attitude upset Sian who discussed the issue with the chemotherapy nurses. Again they reinforced that no blood should be taken from the left arm.

The chemotherapy went to plan and, eventually, Sian attended her GP surgery for her last blood test, prior to her final cycle. This time the GP inspected her right arm and commented that Sian had hard arteries. The GP said blood would have to be taken from the left arm instead, to which Sian protested.

However, the GP insisted on taking blood from the left arm, despite precise instructions not to do so. Two days later Sian woke up and saw that her left arm had swollen up. She attended the hospital and was told she had lymphoedema. This occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged and so cannot drain fluid, causing the tissue to become swollen.

The nurse told Sian that her lymphoedema happened as a result of the doctor taking blood from the left arm. She also said lymphoedema is permanent and will forever be vulnerable to drainage problems and infections, something Sian understandably found very upsetting.

Sian's left arm is now constantly heavy, hard and painful. Her mobility has been severely affected and she cannot pick up small items due to the swelling in her fingers. She cannot pick up any of her grandchildren or help her husband with chores around the house. She cannot sleep properly and, seeing as she is left-handed, cannot even write anymore.

The whole incident has left Sian feeling very depressed and stressed. She had enough to contend with from her cancer treatment and has had to face yet more medical problems, all because of her GP's actions.

Sian contacted us for advice and we suggested that her GP had been negligent in taking blood from her left arm, despite being told not to. This caused her to develop lymphoedema, a chronic condition that will continue to cause Sian pain and suffering. We helped her make a claim against her GP and she was awarded over £5,000 compensation.

(Details which might identify our client have been changed.)

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