An NHS dentist who advised a patient to treat what turned out to be a life-threatening oral cancer with mouthwash is being sued for tens of thousands of pounds in damages.
Paula Drabble, 58, went to Pinfold Dental Practice, in Hattersley, Hyde, in June 2008 with concerns about a white lesion on her gum.
She was told by her dentist, Ian Hughes, it was nothing serious, a court heard.
Mrs Drabble of Mottram Moor, Mottram, Hyde, had five further appointments with Mr Hughes and was advised to ‘manage’ her complaint with mouthwash. She was eventually referred to hospital in April 2009, and ‘seriously invasive cancer’ diagnosed.
She had surgery, including removal of affected bone, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
She has now made a good recovery and has begun a High Court fight for damages, claiming Mr Hughes was negligent to have not spotted the cancer and referred her to hospital earlier. Timothy Briden, for Mrs Drabble, told the court his client had developed the patch on her gum some years earlier. The lesion was found to be benign by medics at the University Dental Hospital in Manchester and she was discharged in 2004 with a letter being sent to Mr Hughes, warning him to ‘re-refer if you notice or indeed Mrs Drabble notices any changes’.
Marcus Dignum, for Mr Hughes, denied that his client was at fault in failing to spot the cancer. He said: “Plainly the court will have every sympathy with Mrs Drabble in respect of her ordeal, as does Mr Hughes, but the allegations made against him are extremely serious from both a personal and professional standpoint. They are vigorously denied.
“In June 2008 the presence of the cancer would not have been detectable with the human eye, as its presence would have been at a cellular level only.”