In one of the biggest medical negligence suits in Britain, 450 women claim to have been subjected to operations for the removal of allegedly cancerous lumps, when they were, in fact, completely healthy. Another 700 cases have surfaced, in which breast cancer patients underwent risky surgery, at the doctor's advice.
They were advised to undergo “cleavage-saving” surgery instead of complete mastectomies, by long-practicing “rogue” surgeon Ian Paterson. The procedure put them in danger of the condition returning.
As the medical board found that over 1,000 surgeries had been mishandled, they suspended Paterson's license to practice.
More than 100 female patients are now formally accusing the plastic surgeon of performing unnecessary or botched mastectomies, in a civil suit.
“Then I may get some closure. He punished me in some way and I think he should be punished,” one of the plaintiffs stated, as cited by the Daily Mail
She was appalled to find out that she had been misdiagnosed with breast cancer and underwent needless surgery.
Kashmir Uppal, head of clinical negligence with the Thompsons firm, is handling the lawsuit.
“Clearly mistakes do happen in any clinical setting. Unfortunately, a midwife can misread a CTT trace, somebody will misread an X-ray, a GP won’t recognize signs of colorectal cancer... This is different,” she says.
“It’s the largest case that I’ve dealt with, with the number of women involved and the reasons he was doing this, which we just can’t establish,” Uppal explains.
Paterson worked for several years in the field, providing his services at hospitals across England - the NHS’ Heartlands hospital, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield’s Good Hope. He later moved on to the private Spire Hospital Parkway and Spire Hospital Little Aston.
In 2004, he was investigated for performing life-threatening partial mastectomies to breast cancer patients, meant to conserve women's cleavage. The doctor was only stopped in December 2007, following an inquiry into why 700 former patients had to be reexamined at Heart of England NHS.
Some of the malpractice claims against him date back to 1994.
Police are looking into Paterson's motivations, which they believe were related to financial gain. The doctor is being criminally investigated for submitting false claims to insurance companies, demanding expensive operations be paid, when he had in fact performed less costly ones.
“A criminal inquiry has been launched and the force is working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine the course of the investigation,” West Midlands Detective Chief Inspector Matt Markham says.