A mother-of-two was put through four rounds of chemotherapy she didn’t need – and only discovered the mistake after researching the recommended treatment herself.
Jodi Huggett, 41, underwent the chemotherapy, which caused her to go into anaphylactic shock twice, after an operation to remove a low-grade form of bowel cancer .
However, as she faced the fifth session of treatment feeling desperately ill, she went online to research neuroendocrine tumours – only to realise she had been put through the extra suffering needlessly.
Mrs Huggett found that chemotherapy had never been proven to work on the type of tumour she had and she should not have undergone the treatment after having her operation to remove the cancer.
Now, after taking legal action against Hull and East Yorkshire Hospital’s NHS Trust, the Trust has agreed to pay a compensation settlement to Mrs Huggett.
The Trust admitted the oncologist failed to consider accepted UK and European guidelines with regards to the most suitable course of treatment.
The Trust also admitted the decision to offer chemotherapy breached the hospital’s duty of care.
Mrs Huggett, from Caistor, near Grimsby, North East Lincs., said: “I was on my knees following my operation and with my chemotherapy treatment.
“I was just about to go into my fifth cycle and I felt so poorly that I decided to look online into it myself.
“To my amazement, I found a blog which mentioned people of my age with the same tumour and referenced the Royal Free Hospital in London as a specialist centre.
“From what I read, I questioned the treatment and the information I had been given, so I contacted the Royal Free Hospital and they agreed to review my case.
“They told me chemotherapy never has and never will be proven to work on a tumour like the one I had and the only way it would have been required was for a palliative care patient, which I wasn’t.”
Mrs Huggett added: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out it had all been completely unnecessary.
“It was heartbreaking.”
The Royal Free Hospital contacted Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, East Yorks., that Mrs Huggett was attending, to advise them they were treating their patient incorrectly.
Having suffered a number of side-effects from the chemotherapy, Mrs Huggett has called it “disgusting” that she was able to contact another NHS Hospital for advice and to be told about the incorrect treatment and accepted guidelines after conducting basic online research.
Mrs Huggett, mum to Olivia, 19, and Harriet, 16, said: “I suffered from coldness of the lips, fingers and toes, low energy and tingling as side-effects of the chemotherapy and I didn’t even need it.
“It shouldn’t have happened.”
She added: “I had such a bad experience twice during chemotherapy because I went into anaphylactic shock when my treatment was delivered late and my temperature kept dropping.
“It’s ridiculous. Think about the cost to the NHS and the nursing care, the amount of chemotherapy, anti-sickness drugs, steroids and anti-depressants I was on.”
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust has now agreed to pay a compensation settlement to Mrs Huggett after she was represented by medical negligence specialists Hudgell Solicitors.
But, Mrs Huggett remains unhappy and claims the admission from the hospital only came after she took legal action after demanding full investigations into her care.
Fortunately for her, after undergoing scans and checks in London by the Royal Free specialists, it was revealed she was cancer free – a far cry from the devastating diagnosis she had received in August 2013.
Speaking about when she was told she had a low-grade neuroendocrine tumour, Mrs Huggett said: “I was floored when they told me I had cancer. I was 39 and had to face my own mortality.
“My children were aware I had a tumour but I was desperately trying to shelter them from the fact it was cancer. It devastated my eldest daughter.
“I had to tell them it was an unfriendly lump.
“I was told by the oncologist that my cancer was rare, it had only ever been seen in North America, only affects people over 60 and there was a 50 per cent chance of it recurring within 15 years.
“But after looking online, I realised this wasn’t the case at all.
“I was told they didn’t really know anything about it and I’d probably had my luck because it was low grade and easy to operate on.”
The two-hour operation to remove the tumour and part of Mrs Huggett’s bowel was a success but it was then that chemotherapy was recommended by her oncologist – a course of action she didn’t think to question.
Luckily, Mrs Huggett, a director of a renewables company, is not expected to suffer any long term problems as a result of the treatment but solicitor Hayley Collinson, who specialises in compensation claims related to medical negligence, described it as “completely inexcusable” to fail to follow accepted guidelines.
Mrs Collinson said: “Mrs Huggett was put through avoidable extra pain, suffering and illness simply because medical experts failed to follow accepted UK and European guidelines to the best form of treatment following her operation.
“This is completely inexcusable and was completely avoidable.
“If you are diagnosed with cancer, it’s not unusual to be told you need chemotherapy, so it’s understandable that she trusted her consultant and relied on their recommendation and went with it.
“Anybody else in Mrs Huggett’s position would have done the same.”
Now Mrs Huggett is looking forward to the future.
She said: “I feel like I can put some closure on it now.
“I needed to see my complaint through and get admissions and Hudgell Solicitors have helped me to do that.
“I wanted answers and accountability, and that’s what I got in the end.”
Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust have been contacted for comment.