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Woman Whose Doctors Missed Endometriosis Diagnosis For 17 Years Awarded £500k Compensation

Woman Whose Doctors Missed Endometriosis Diagnosis For 17 Years Awarded £500k Compensation

A woman who spent 17 years in extreme pain after doctors misdiagnosed her endometriosis has won a £500,000 payout.

Doctors told Frances Bell that her cramping and pain was irritable bowel syndrome when she first visited them aged just 14-years-old.

And despite having the tell-tale symptoms of endometriosis, Frances, now 37, was only diagnosed with the condition six years ago - meaning she suffered 17 years of pain due to the doctor's error.

The gynaecology appointment in her teens wasn't the only time Frances was given the wrong medical diagnosis.

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During a gynaecology assessment in 2001 an 18-year-old Frances told medics of her concerns but they dismissed her fears and refused to refer her for more tests.

Frances suffered without diagnosis for 17 years (Credit: SWNS)
Frances suffered without diagnosis for 17 years (Credit: SWNS)

"When I was told, as a 14-year-old, that my classic endometriosis symptoms were exaggerated and imaginary, I felt forced to accept it," she said.

"This led to 17 years of pain, misery, and an eventual diagnosis of infertility, which has devastated the lives of myself, my family, and my now husband: a situation that could so easily have been prevented.

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"I have to live with the consequences, caused by a total lack of investigation by two medical professionals, who were condescending about me in letters on my medical file."

Frances continued to experience pain after her gynaecology appointments and, in 2014, after she had stopped taking contraception to prepare to try for a baby, this became so severe that she even had to go to A&E.

After being referred for further tests and undergoing keyhole exploratory surgery, a laparoscopy, in 2015, she finally got the endometriosis diagnosis.

Frances, from Mickleover, Derbys, was forced to give up her job as a primary school teacher due to the disease having spread around her ovary and bowel.

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Frances was just 14 when she first went to the doctors (Credit: SWNS)
Frances was just 14 when she first went to the doctors (Credit: SWNS)

But, what's worse is due to the delay in treating the disease it had reached Grade 4, meaning she was unable to conceive naturally.

Despite the pain, she decided to take the plunge and undergo IVF, and she and biochemist husband Jon, 35, had baby Harry in 2018.

She still faces years of pain as a result of the misdiagnosis, and was told she would need a hysterectomy and bowel resection in the future.

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So, she recruited Leigh Day medical negligence solicitors and sued Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Trust admitted that a laparoscopy should have been performed in 2001 and that the diagnosis of endometriosis would then have been reached.

And last week Frances received £500,000 in an out-of -court settlement from the Trust.

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Discussing her experience, Frances said she hoped speaking would inspire other people to get a second opinion.

"Via social media, I have spoken to dozens of other women who felt they have been grossly let down in similar circumstances.

"Often, like me, they had diagnosed themselves perfectly, yet no one would take them seriously.

"I hope my story will give hope and encouragement to others, to make a fuss, persevere, and trust their own minds when they feel something is wrong."

Frances has been supported by her husband (Credit: SWNS)
Frances has been supported by her husband (Credit: SWNS)

Leigh Day solicitor Stephen Jones, who represented Frances, said: "It was quite shocking to me that Frances's complaints were not taken seriously at the outset.

"She was treated quite patronisingly and as a result her endometriosis was left to become much more severe and that has adversely affected her life in many ways.

"I am pleased that we were able to negotiate substantial compensation to reflect that and I hope that there is a more enlightened approach these days to the recognition and treatment of endometriosis."

Meanwhile, Nottingham University Hospitals Trust medical director, Dr Keith Girling, said: "We are very sorry that the care Ms Bell received in 2001 fell below the normal standard we would expect for our patients.

Frances was able to have a baby of her own through IVF (Credit: SWNS)
Frances was able to have a baby of her own through IVF (Credit: SWNS)

"Had we correctly diagnosed her endometriosis earlier some of her distress could have been avoided, and for that we are truly sorry.

"Our organisation sets itself high standards in terms of the care we deliver, and we are committed to learning and improving.

"Over the last 19 years a lot has changed at our trust including practice in relation to diagnostic laparoscopy, for which we follow the 2017 NICE guidelines."

Featured Image Credit: SWNS

Topics: Endometriosis, Real, health news, Health

Joanna Freedman

Joanna is a journalist at Tyla with a particular interest in highlighting women's issues and telling inspiring first person stories. She's also their resident foodie, and loves covering exciting new beauty launches, too. Contact her at [email protected]