A HOSPITAL filing error led to the premature death of a loving family man after his brain tumour went untreated for more than a year.
Eddie Kirtley, from Shiney Row, went for an MRI scan at Sunderland Royal Hospital after suffering from severe headaches in December 2008.
The test results showed that he had a slow-growing tumour in his head and he was told that a follow-up appointment would be arranged.
But due to a letter being incorrectly filed, that consultation was never arranged and the error was only spotted at a routine rheumatology appointment in January 2010.
A further scan in March showed that the tumour had progressed and tragically Mr Kirtley, 82 at the time, died two months later after only receiving one radiotherapy session.
Mr Kirtley’s wife Jane said: “Eddie’s diagnosis was devastating, and then to learn that an incorrectly-filed letter allowed him to go untreated for over a year was absolutely horrendous.
“Given his otherwise good health and as we weren’t contacted by the doctor, we thought the scan must not have found anything, but we couldn’t have been further from the truth.”
Since his death, an oncology report has shown that Mr Kirtley could have had more precious time with his family had he received the appropriate follow-up.
The family, who contacted solicitors Irwin Mitchell to investigate the error, have now reached a settlement with City Hospitals Sunderland Trust and received an undisclosed sum in damages.
Mr Kirtley’s son Eddy, 60, said: “It was very distressing for all of us that a secretarial error could result in this.
“Watching him change and deteriorate so quickly was very hard for us and caused huge problems for my mum, especially as he had been so active.
“At the time we felt very angry and let down but now we just want to make sure that it does not happen again to anyone else.”
As a result, patients’ rights expert Julia Cotterill is urging the NHS to learn lessons from the tragedy to ensure such errors don’t happen again.
She said: “Regrettably no amount of money will ever bring Mr Kirtley back, but for his family this was about achieving justice in his name.
“Jane and Edward needed answers, to know how and why an incorrectly-filed appointment letter could go unnoticed for so long, as well as reassurances that the same error could not happen to anyone else.
“It is now imperative that the NHS learns from the basic, avoidable errors made during this process in order to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.”
Today, a spokesman for the trust confirmed that they had reached an agreement with the Kirtleys.