'NHS treatment delay' caused cancer patient's death

Peter Filipovic Image copyright PA / Family handout
Image caption Peter Filipovic died from pancreatic cancer after delays to his treatment, the ombudsman found

A man died from operable cancer after an NHS trust failed to act on advice from another hospital, an ombudsman's report has revealed.

Peter Filipovic, 62, was referred to King's College Hospital in London with suspected pancreatic cancer by the Medway Maritime Hospital in 2011.

He died in summer 2012 after delays to his treatment, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said.

King's College Hospital had "failed to act quickly enough", it ruled.

The case is one of dozens of errors by public bodies and the NHS detailed in the report from the PHSO.

Image copyright Chris L L / Geograph
Image caption Peter Filipovic was referred to King's College Hospital for surgery with a small tumour

Mr Filipovic, from Sittingbourne, Kent, was referred to King's for surgery after doctors at the Medway Maritime Hospital found a small tumour on his pancreas.

However, medics at King's failed to act upon the diagnosis of possible cancer and investigated him for other problems, the ombudsman said.

His wife Jean, 65, said doctors at the London hospital initially told the family he did not have cancer.

It was not until several months later, after he had lost six stone, suffered from jaundice and was unable to walk, that the doctors then said he did have cancer, but he was too weak to have an operation and it was too late for chemotherapy, Mrs Filipovic said.

Image copyright PA / Family handout
Image caption Peter Filipovic had three children with his wife Jean, and two grandchildren

The ombudsman said the outcome might have been the same even if the King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust had been quicker with Mr Filipovic's investigations.

It also found the family had been given "confusing and contradictory" information and the trust had mishandled the family's complaint.

Mrs Filipovic, who complained to the ombudsman said: "We understand that pancreatic cancer is a killer but King's didn't even give him a chance."

Following the PHSO's investigation, King's apologised for the failings and the impact they had on Mrs Filipovic.

It also paid her £1,500 in recognition that its failings denied her husband "the opportunity to be given the best chance of survival".

In a statement, a spokesman for the hospital said the care received by Mr Filipovic "fell below the high standards we set ourselves".

He said lessons had been learnt from the case, and it had taken "a number of steps" to improve the safety of the services provided.

"This includes working with the clinicians involved in Mr Filipovic's care to improve the management of patients with similar conditions, and robust tracking of all patients with suspected cancer to ensure they are treated within the appropriate timescales," he said.

Other NHS complaints investigated by the PHSO:

  • Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust missed opportunities to prevent a woman committing suicide after she was discharged from hospital - despite a history of depression and previous attempts to take her own life
  • Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust failed to carry out a scan that may have saved the life of a baby in the late stages of the mother's pregnancy. The mother was also treated with a lack of care and compassion during the subsequent delivery of her stillborn child
  • A woman suffered an avoidable death after two GPs in Cheshire failed to diagnose and treat her correctly after she had developed deep vein thrombosis
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust missed an opportunity to treat a two-year-old child who died
  • Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust failed to treat a man who had suffered a large heart attack, left him for several hours, and then inappropriately transferred him to a cardiac centre where he died shortly after arrival
  • Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust missed opportunities to save a man's sight after "significant failings" by an ophthalmologist in managing post-operative complications

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