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Widow wins compensation claim after misdiagnosis left husband to die

A widow has won an £18,000 compensation claim for clinical negligence after doctors wrongly diagnosed her husband with cancer, gave him palliative care and let him die.

The 76-year-old Liverpool man had been successfully treated for cancer months before his last illness and when he became ill later in 2006 doctors said the cancer had returned. He was not given food or fluids, only pain-relieving care, at a hospice where he subsequently died.

However, a post mortem found the former bricklayer had been suffering from pneumonia.

Solicitors acting for the widow claimed three doctors were at fault by failing to realise about the chest infection, before it was too late.

Lawyer Michael Danby said, "What was wrong could and should have been diagnosed at the time, and, with timely treatment, he could have survived."

Health bosses have refused to make an apology but instead offered a "letter of regret", which contains no admission of liability for the misdiagnosis.

Six defendants in the case were the hospice; two doctors working there; a third doctor and his respective employers, Clatterbridge centre for oncology and Warrington and Halton hospitals trust.

A solicitor for the hospice said, "There was a settlement, but no liability of any of the parties. It was felt better if this matter was resolved as quickly as possible. The sum of money will be shared between the defendants."

In September 2009, nearly three years after the man's death, health bosses agreed to settle the case without admitting liability and paid the compensation claim.