Horrific Ordeal as Mum Has Womb ‘Needlessly’ Removed After Her Cervical Cancer was Misdiagnosed

In 2013 when Nikita Nicholls was 26, she was invited for a cervical smear test that returned negative results. However in the months that followed, her health and quality of life deteriorated as she struggled with unusual bleeding, abdominal pain, and depression. Unknowingly, Nikita had cervical cancer which was not diagnosed due to a catalogue of errors.

A Horrendous Experience

Around the time Nikita Nicholls was invited for her first cervical smear test, she was living in Coventry, running her ice-cream van business and about to start training to become a teaching assistant.

Negative cervical cancer test results eased any fears, allowing her to go on with her life for 8 months, after which her health took an abrupt downward turn. She began experiencing severe abdominal pain, which she described:

“There were times my children witnessed me in absolute agony, rolling around on my living room floor, screaming in pain. My little girls were seven, four and one when this all started, and have really had to grow up fast.”

The pain was accompanied by bleeding.

Nikita, who now lives in Solihull, described herself as having ‘the broken body of an elderly woman.’

She recalls long periods where she couldn’t hug her own children because of tubes inserted in her kidneys. “I was utterly terrified of infections”, she said, “I feel guilty for not being a proper mother to my girls.”

‘Nikita Was Let Down at Multiple Points’

Nikita was prescribed anti-depressants for her pain and deteriorating mental health. Doctors determined her pain was due to an infection –  before eventually removing her appendix. However she was back in hospital 10 days later, still in severe pain. Only then did a gynaecologist discover stage 2 cervical cancer.

After her diagnosis she was advised to have six weeks of chemotherapy followed by a radical hysterectomy – a procedure that entails the removal of the pelvic lymph nodes, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. During the surgery, Nikita suffered a cut ureter, which was repaired during the procedure.

Following the radical hysterectomy, she experienced early menopause and suffered numerous health problems which led her to her being admitted 37 times.

Unnecessary removal of reproductive organs

The 33-year-old mother of three was said to be horrified when it was determined that the radical hysterectomy was unnecessary as there were no cancer found in the removed organs.

The correct medical protocol states that there should be a 12 week waiting period following chemo-radiotherapy to allow for MRI scans and biopsies to be conducted. These diagnostic tests would determine whether cancer was still present and whether surgery would be required. Doctors were negligent in failing to request these tests which resulted in the unnecessary removal of Nikita’s uterus and other organs.

Nikita commented:

“I put my trust completely in that surgeon. If he had told me I needed to have my arms and legs amputated, I would have said fine because I truly believed he was advising me correctly”

She said:

 “But not only did he not provide me with any other options, he pressured me into having an operation before checking if the cancer was still present.”

“They stripped me of my whole female reproductive organs in my 20’s. I have been on HRT patches ever since, lost my relationship and some days I am in so much pain I can’t even do simple mum-tasks, like wash my children’s hair.”

“I was admitted to hospital 37 times. When I was at my worst, I truly believed I was going to die.”

The resulting complications of her unnecessary surgery included kidney and bowel infections and obstructions, recurrent sepsis, osteoporosis, and premature menopause. Nikita is expected to also suffer kidney failure and be in need of dialysis in the years to come. She has two stoma bags to replace her removed bowel and bladder, acute pelvic pain caused by the radio-chemotherapy, anxiety, and depression.

It is unlikely that any part of Nikita’s life will ever return to normality and she may never work again.

The University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, without admitting responsibility, settled the clinical negligence claim for a seven-figure amount. A spokesperson for the trust apologized to Ms Nicholls for:

‘..the complications she had suffered and the distress caused to her and her family.”

“We can confirm a settlement has been reached to help support her quality of life moving forward.”

Mistakes in cervical cancer screening are not uncommon

Unfortunately, Nikita’s case is not unique.

Lynsey Bennett, 32, of County Longford, Ireland, had four smear tests between 2010 and 2016, but each time was told they were negative.

Rachel Foley developed cervical cancer and had to have a hysterectomy after incorrectly being told her smear test was clear.

Nicky Jetson-Shepherd died at the age of 52, only 16 months after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. She had been told by doctors her symptoms were related to early menopause.

Nikita’s Message to Other Women

Despite the misdiagnosis of her cervical cancer, Nikita is putting her horrific experience aside and urging women to go for cervical screening.

In her message to other women, she urged them to not be deterred by her experience, saying:

“Despite what happened to me, I would still encourage women to go for their smear tests as it could save their lives. However, it is important the checkers are aware of what they need to be looking for and spot any abnormalities.

I did my part by going for my smear test when invited but I was let down. But women should still get their smear tests done and any who delayed getting them done because of the pandemic should ensure they get them done now.”

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity. Its chief executive, Samantha Dixon, has echoed Nikita’s message, confirming that cervical screening is the best protection against cervical cancer, helping prevent 75% of would-be cases from ever developing.

Compensation for the late diagnosis of cervical cancer

Although regular cervical cancer screening protects women, mistakes are made in the interpretation of the results. GPs and other health care practitioners may also mistake the symptoms of cervical cancer for other conditions such as heavy periods, changes in the menstrual cycle or the menopause. These mistakes could significantly delay the diagnosis of cervical cancer and the treatment required.

A cervical cancer compensation claim could result from:

  • A GP or other healthcare provider misdiagnosing your cervical cancer symptoms and delaying your referral for diagnostic tests and treatment
  • A GP or other healthcare provider failing to gather accurate history or carrying out an examination
  • Delays in referring a patient for cervical cancer treatment
  • Mistakes made in the collection and storing of a smear test
  • Mistakes made in the interpretation or assessment of smear test results
  • Unnecessary treatment or surgery eg. the unnecessary removal of the uterus or other organs following the diagnosis of cervical cancer

The compensation payout could provide for:

  • Specialist private surgery or treatment to recover from cervical cancer and the consequences of the cancer
  • Necessary care and assistance
  • Rehabilitation or home adaptations
  • Loss of earnings
  • Expenses (e.g. travel costs)

Devonshires Claims’ experienced cancer misdiagnosis solicitors support victims of medical negligence make a cervical cancer misdiagnosis claim on a No Win No Fee basis.

For more information or to start your free case evaluation, contact our experts today on 0333 900 8787, email admin@devonshiresclaims.co.uk or complete our online form.

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