A young woman who lived with a lump in her mouth for six years has been diagnosed with cancer after doctors failed to schedule a follow-up appointment for her.
Jordan Del’Nero, 25, was first taken to the ER by her concerned parents in August 2012 after complaining about the lump.
She also had a toothache and a swollen mouth, but was prescribed antibiotics and was later referred to a specialist dental hospital.
There she was given more antibiotics for a suspected cyst or infected salivary gland.
In August 2013, she was referred back to Charles Clifford Dental Hospital after experiencing increased pain in the nodule and her gums began to bleed.
But Jordan and her family claim the hospital never contacted them for a follow-up appointment, so they assumed the lump no longer needed medical attention.
In January 2019, Jordan developed a toothache again and after a series of scans and a biopsy, she was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer.
She underwent surgery just three months after her diagnosis, which included removing five teeth, removing a jaw and reconstruction, and taking a skin graft from her left leg.
Jordan said: “Things started to change in early 2019. When I went back to the hospital I was older now and very afraid it might be something more sinister than a cyst.
“When I was told I had cancer, I felt numb. I don’t remember much after my surgery, except that I was there in the hospital.
“I couldn’t talk for a few days and had to write messages on a notepad. I struggled to eat for about two weeks after leaving the hospital. I depended on my family and my wife for everything.
“Even four years later, I’m still getting used to my diagnosis and my appearance. I have scars on my neck and leg from surgery and would like to have dental implants to replace my lost teeth.
“I try to stay as positive as possible, but sometimes I worry about what the future holds.
“I just hope that by speaking out I can help others who may be going through something similar and to raise awareness of oral cancer, especially among young people.”
Jordan, who is married to her wife Amy, has now directed Irwin Mitchell’s medical negligence attorneys to investigate her care at Charles Clifford Dental Hospital.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, originally denied dereliction of duty.
But they eventually admitted that Jordan was added to their system as a “new routine” appointment rather than an “urgent” appointment.
There was also “no evidence” that she had been contacted to arrange an appointment and the trust have said they “cannot give an explanation” as to why she has not been seen.
Jordan, who lives in Sheffield, said: “When I was first seen at Charles Clifford Dental Hospital I wasn’t too concerned. I was young and at no time did the doctors give the impression that there was anything to worry about.
“When I went back about a year later, I didn’t get a follow-up appointment, so we assumed it was something not to worry about. If we had gotten an appointment, I know my mom or dad would have taken me.
“Over the next several years, the lump remained and I assumed it was something I just had to live with.”
Nicola Ashton, an expert medical negligence attorney at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Jordan has endured an incredibly tough number of years, first living with the tumor and then having to accept her diagnosis and subsequent treatment.
“During our investigation, some worrying issues came to light regarding Jordan’s care.
“While we are pleased to have resolved this matter, allowing Jordan to focus on the future and her continued recovery, it is also vital that lessons are learned now to improve patient safety and care for others.”