Biopsies – Their Importance & The Consequences Of Failure To Take Them

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is a medical procedure that involves taking a small sample of body tissue so it can be examined under a microscope.

When might a biopsy be required?

A biopsy can be used to investigate abnormalities. When the tissue sample is examined under the microscope, abnormal cells may be identified, which can help to diagnose a specific condition. If a condition has already been diagnosed, a biopsy can also be used to assess its severity and grade.

This information can be useful when deciding on appropriate treatment and assessing how well a person responds to a particular type of treatment. It can also be useful in helping to determine a person’s overall prognosis.

What if a chance to take a biopsy is missed?

Sometimes, the chance to undertake a vital biopsy is missed, and this can result in catastrophic outcomes for patients.

If further review is not carried out via biopsy, this can result in the condition progressing and possibly moving to other parts of the body, causing more damage.

If this happens, you may be entitled to bring a claim in clinical negligence for the failure to undertake the necessary biopsy.

The case of Miss RG

Nelsons were recently instructed to pursue a clinical negligence claim on behalf of a female client against Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in relation to a failure to undertake a vital omental biopsy.

Our client was referred by her GP in 2019 to the Trust’s gynaecology assessment unit surgical team following the development of an umbilical hernia.

During assessments, our client was found to have a mass in her pelvic/abdominal area and a plan was made for CT scan and blood samples.

Tumour markers were normal, but CT confirmed a large cyst.

The plan was for elective surgery for midline laparotomy, washings, left salpingo-oophorectomy and repair of the umbilical hernia. The surgeon also explained to our client that biopsies would need to be taken during the course of the surgery to rule out potential malignancy. Our client underwent the operation in August 2019.

However, the surgeon subsequently realised that she had failed to take a necessary omental biopsy during the surgery. Therefore, tumour staging was incomplete. Our client was informed of this failure during a follow-up appointment.

This resulted in our client having to undergo further surgery for the omental biopsy. She, therefore, suffered unnecessary further surgery, pain and suffering and a period of further recovery which would have been avoided but for the negligence.

claim negligence biopsy
Danielle Young

Our client instructed Danielle Young, Senior Associate and Solicitor in our specialist Medical Negligence team, in June 2020 to pursue a claim on her behalf for the negligent treatment provided to her.

The Trust admitted that there had been a negligent failure to take the necessary omental biopsy resulting in pain and suffering for our client and the need for further otherwise avoidable surgery. Settlement negotiations commenced and our client accepted an out of Court settlement of a four-figure sum of compensation.

How can Nelsons help?

If you would like any advice in relation to the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Danielle or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.