A New Zealand doctor 'completely forgot' to tell a patient she had cancer.
A New Zealand doctor 'completely forgot' to tell a patient she had cancer. Iain Curry

Patient dies after GP 'completely forgot' about cancer

A NEW Zealand doctor must apologise after he "completely forgot" to tell a patient she had breast cancer.

The 57-year-old patient met with the GP in November 2009, six years after previously being treated for breast cancer.

She lost her fight against the cancer this year, following a five-year battle.

The patient told the doctor she was experiencing pain in her left shoulder -- she was referred for an X-Ray and ultrasound.

The radiologist who viewed the scans told the GP they were "highly suggestive of metatstasis (the spread of cancer from one organ to another)" and recommended a bone scan.

Despite not passing on any of this information to the patient, she was later diagnosed with having a "metastatic lesion in her left shoulder, likely of breast origin given her medical history" by another doctor three months later.


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In the findings by New Zealand's Health and Disability Commissioner, the GP's failure to pass on information delayed the patient's diagnosis.

The GP conceded to the Commissioner he "either overlooked or completely forgot about the radiologist's comment in relation to a suspicious lesion".

He said he "certainly never intended to overlook the result or fail to advise (the patient) of it".

The doctor has been told to apologise and will be referred to New Zealand's Director of Proceedings, who will decide whether further action is needed.

The Commissioner does not reveal the names of patients or doctors involved.



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