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Medical Negligence May Have Accelerated Death of ’Human Guinea Pig’


A mesothelioma sufferer from Oxford died after being treated as a “human guinea pig” by the nearby Churchill Hospital, it has emerged.

According to reports in the Oxford Mail, Andy Witney died in August 2010 after a five-year battle with the form of cancer. However, in an inquest into the incident, it was suggested a drugs trial may have accelerated his death.

New treatment tested by Mr Witney caused extremely severe side effects, leaving him without the use of his lower legs and with uncontrollable diarrhoea. He died just 12 days after beginning the trial.

At the inquest, Coroner Nicholas Gardiner stated the death, although a result of mesothelioma, may well have been accelerated by the drugs.

Mr Witney’s widow Karen spoke of how, after he had started the trial, she once found him in the hospital naked and covered in his own excrement, having to nurse him herself due to staff shortages.
She went on to describe the final week before his death as “an unimaginable nightmare”.

In a letter to Ms Witney, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals Trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael wrote: “We regret that we did not provide Mr Witney with a high standard of care during the final days of his life and for the distress and suffering this caused you both.”

Commenting on the news, medical negligence expert and lawyer at Darbys Solicitors LLP Richard Money-Kyrle said: "Medical negligence can come in many forms - not just botched surgery or misdiagnosis of a serious illness or injury. In this case, it was substandard care for someone suffering terribly with the effects of these drugs.

“There is no cure for mesothelioma. Surgery and drugs can extend life expectancy and quality of life however the individual must never be forgotten in the quest for new and better treatment.”

Darbys Solicitors LLP is a leading UK law firm with expert solicitors providing a wide range of legal services. For more information on medical negligence compensation claims relating to cerebral palsy in babies, visit the company’s dedicated website:


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