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GP Bungled Case Of Woman With Bowel Cancer: HDC

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
GP Bungled Case Of Woman With Bowel Cancer: HDC

Wellington, Nov 22 NZPA - The Medical Council has been asked to consider reviewing the competency of a family doctor who diagnosed a patient with bowel cancer as suffering anaemia, caused by an iron deficiency.

The council's director of proceedings has also been asked by Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill to consider whether any legal actions should be taken against the doctor, identified only as a general practitioner, Dr A.

Mr Hill said the patient, a 66-year-old woman, consulted the doctor over a year from November 2007 with shortness of breath, low energy levels, tiredness, back pain , an aching upper abdomen, and tightness in her lower chest, and was prescribed iron supplements.

There was no rectal or abdominal examination, or tests to investigate the cause of the anaemia, but the doctor also diagnosed the woman -- she had a family history of bowel cancer -- with gastritis twice in 2008.

When the patient saw another GP, Dr C, a CT scan showed she was found to have bowel cancer and a secondary cancer in her liver.

She was now receiving palliative hospice care at home.

She complained in September 2009 about the adequacy of her original care and the information she was given by Dr A.

An in-house clinical adviser to the commission, Dr David Maplesden, of Auckland, reviewed the case and said the cancer should have been diagnosed towards the end of 2007, with the help of a colonoscopy or a CT scan.

"This was yet another case where patient safety was compromised through failing to get the basics right," Mr Hill said.

"If appropriate investigations into the cause of Ms B's iron deficiency had been carried out by Dr A, her cancer could have been diagnosed earlier".

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