A leading surgeon performing a ‘routine’ operation on a nurse who later died after developing cancer has admitted that she could have survived.
Death of Catherine Jones
Giving evidence to an inquest at Ruthin, North Wales via video link from the US state of Arizona, consultant gynaecologist Dr Eric Njiforfut said that the death of Catherine Jones, 35, was ‘wholly avoidable’ if hospital bosses had spotted the signs of cancer four years earlier.
He said he he didn’t recall seeing a senior colleague’s handwritten annotation on a scan report made seven or eight months earlier, meaning he hadn’t suspected any malignancy on the day of surgery.
If there had been any suspicion he would have expected Ms Jones, of Hawarden, near Chester, to have been seen earlier within a fortnight.
Why the nurse died
‘It wasn’t unusual to have this lag. This was a case where at the time there wasn’t a suspicion of malignancy,’ he remarked.
On Monday senior gynaecological oncologist Philip Toon said he had recommended the patient’s right ovary and fallopian tube should be removed when reviewing her case in November 2012.
He feared a cyst on one of her ovaries may be cancerous.The inquest heard the cyst was removed at Wrexham Maelor Hospital the following July.
Mrs Jones had died in November 2016.
How her death is avoidable
The inquest heard the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board accepted a biopsy taken in 2013 was reported wrongly as ‘benign’ when it had been ‘borderline’ cancerous.
A family lawyer has called her death ‘wholly avoidable.’
Mrs Shweta Joshi, at the time a speciality trainee doctor, said she too hadn’t seen the note of Mr Toon.
In her evidence Mrs Joshi agreed there was no up-to-date scan in July 2013 and Mrs Jones hadn’t been seen in a clinic. She would have told Dr Njiforfut the history, the witness said.
Earlier senior coroner John Gittins said he didn’t feel it necessary to further examine the circumstances which led to the biopsy sample being ‘wrongly classified.’
Barrister Daniel Rogers, for the health Board, said ‘The Board accepts the histopathology sample was wrongly classified. Treatment would have been different had it been classified differently as a borderline tumour.’