Doctor to be assessed after cancer scan botch-up

The Medical Council will assess the competence of a doctor whose failure to follow up a scan result has left a Dunedin woman facing terminal cancer.

Yesterday the Otago Daily Times revealed the bungle in which a local woman's cancer become inoperable: a scan which highlighted a 43mm mass was ignored for 27 days, and then deleted without any follow-up.

The Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) has criticised the doctor's actions, requesting a competency assessment for the doctor.

''If the HDC makes a recommendation to council, it undertakes a performance assessment,'' a Medical Council spokesman said.

''The council would need to consider the circumstances and issues related to each particular case and establish whether there was a need for a performance assessment against our own criteria.

''In making a decision, we look carefully at the information provided by the HDC's investigation, but our decision-making is independent of the HDC.''

The woman's story was widely debated on the ODT Facebook page yesterday, and many expressed sympathy for her plight.

She said she told her story to raise awareness of the need to chase up test results, and to alert anyone who might be in the same situation.

Test results from March 2016 were not seen by her doctor until 10 months later: ''I am unable to explain how this report was missed on my part; every doctor's nightmare,'' the doctor told the HDC.

The woman now has stage 4 endometrial cancer, which has spread to her bones, lymph nodes and lungs.

The Medical Council was not able to comment on what action it had taken with the doctor at the centre of this case.

In general, when a complaint or information relating to a doctor's conduct or competence was received by the Medical Council it is referred to the professional standards team.

After further investigation, it may then be referred to a full meeting of the council.

''The possible outcomes of that include requiring the doctor to undergo a Performance Assessment Committee process, and/or that the matter be investigated by a Professional Conduct Committee,'' the spokesman said.

The only public statement on the case would come if the council imposed any conditions on a doctor's practice, he said.

mike.houlahan@odt.co.nz

 

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