Galician woman dies from lung cancer after being diagnosed on 26 occasions with lumbago

Galician woman dies from lung cancer after being diagnosed on 26 occasions with lumbago

Image of the Complejo Hospitalario de Vigo. Credit: Google maps - Matias Villanueva

After 26 visits to different doctors who diagnosed lumbago, a Galician woman eventually died from lung cancer.

A 56-year-old Galician woman who had been diagnosed on 26 different occasions as suffering from lumbago, eventually died from lung cancer. The cause of death of the deceased, from the town of Ponteareas in Pontevedra, was determined after a post-mortem examination was carried out on her body.

The woman visited several health facilities over a period of three months. She was diagnosed in each instance as suffering from lumbago (lower back pain) and prescribed painkillers.

The Servizo Galego de Saúde (Sergas) health authorities have subsequently been found guilty of medical negligence by the Galician High Court of Justice.

As a result, it must compensate the families of the deceased with €20,000. This was awarded in amounts of €10,000 for her widower and €5,000 euros for each of the couple’s children, plus interest for the last seven years, according to elespanol.com, which had access to the court documents.

In July 2015, the woman went to the Ponteareas health centre complaining of lower back pain. She was diagnosed with low back pain and prescribed analgesics and anti-inflammatories. However, the pain did not subside resulting in her visiting the other health centres in Galicia on several occasions. Among them was the Complejo Hospitalario de Vigo.

It was there that medical professionals conducted a chest X-ray to check the condition of her spine. They found no serious lesions in the woman’s bone system. Subsequently, she never underwent another radiological test. Her pain continued to the point that the woman went to a traumatologist, who diagnosed her with a discopathy, again prescribing new medications.

Despite everything, the woman continued to go to various emergency centres on numerous occasions, reaching a total of 26 visits. What she was never diagnosed with was lung cancer with metastasis to various organs. The woman passed away at her home in September 2015.

What was not made clear – as pointed out by the aforementioned Galician news outlet – was whether the lower back pain was a consequence of the tumour, since cancer can cause bone metastases.

The expert witness of the plaintiff family argued in court that there could be a correlation, in addition to the fact that it was verified that the woman had been smoking between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years. Sergas, in response, claimed that there was no relationship between cancer and lower back pain.

Finally, the Galician High Court ruled that Sergas did not perform the necessary tests on the woman for the correct diagnosis. Even the Sergas expert agreed with this decision.

As a result, the ruling stated that, after the X-ray, “the study should have been completed with other more precise techniques, such as a CT scan, to rule out other pathologies”, since the woman’s pain had not subsided.

Although the woman’s visits took place over three months, the post-mortem revealed that she was in a state of very advanced stage IV cancer. It was clarified that its prompt detection would not have guaranteed the woman’s healing.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com

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