UK headlines this morning are awash with the news of police investigations underway for a surgeon who has allegedly performed hundreds of botched – or completely unnecessary – breast cancer operations, at three hospitals located in the West Midlands.
The reputation of the surgeon has come under question as the result of around 90 women taking legal action against the Heart of England NHS Trust, and Spire Healthcare. Speculation is that surgeon, Ian Paterson, could have potentially carried out operations unnecessarily on more than 450 women in perfect health.
Additionally, it is suspected that a further 700 women correctly diagnosed with breast cancer, who have also gone under Paterson’s mastectomy knife could see the disease return, due to an improper ‘cleavage sparing’ technique he employed. This method sees some breast tissue left behind for cosmetic purposes, and is not endorsed due to high likelihood of the non-removal of some cancer cells.
Working for the NHS since 1994, Paterson was suspended of his duties by the General Medical Council (GMC) last month, when the allegations first surfaced. There is no clear motivation for Paterson’s apparent botched and unrequired surgical procedures.
One patient who has been brave enough to share her heart-breaking story is 57 year is Grandmother Gail Boichat, who underwent Paterson’s ‘cleavage-sparing’ mastectomy in 1995. 17 years later in February 2012, Boichat discovered she never had breast cancer at all. This news has devastated her emotionally:
“I felt shock, horror, numbness. The words want to come out but you can’t say anything. You can’t speak. For a while I didn’t even tell anybody about this. It messes with your emotions. My life has been ruined. I have to look at the scar every day now, knowing that I didn’t need the operation.”
Boichat has said that she is seeking monetary compensation and pressing for criminal charges to secure “some closure” adding: “He punished me in some way, and I think he should be punished.”
The BBC has reported lawyer Kashmir Uppal, of Thompsons Solicitors, as describing the Paterson trial as the “largest scale” clinical negligence case she has ever encountered during her career of 16 years. Uppal also stated “[These women] deserved the best medical care but have been let down by Mr Paterson.”
If you suspect you are a victim of substandard mastectomy or any other form of medical negligence, please contact an expert solicitor today for further advice.