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Nurse died from cervical cancer after catalogue of errors

A nurse from South Gloucestershire died after doctors missed signs of her cervical cancer amid a series of "gross" failings, a coroner has ruled.

Julie O’Connor’s cancer was not picked up by North Bristol NHS Foundation Trust despite abnormalities in a smear test in 2014 and a biopsy in 2015. She went for multiple further checks for gynaecological problems in 2016 and 2017 and was referred three times to specialists. However, Ms O'Conner only received a cancer diagnosis once she decided to seek private treatment at Spire Hospital in Bristol.

An inquest into her death was held in Flax Bourton, Somerset, this week.

Maria Voisin, Senior Coroner for the Avon area, found the cause of Ms O’Connor’s death to be of “natural causes contributed to by neglect". She recorded three instances of "gross failures" including the inaccurate smear test as well as mistakes in two further assessments.

Deputy medical director Tim Whittlestone said: “We accept the findings of the coroner and support her actions to build on our correspondence with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists."

“...I would like to reaffirm that North Bristol has investigated these errors and more importantly that we have learnt lessons from our mistakes."

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Source: Nursing Times, 31 January 2020


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