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Cancer death caused by multiple incorrect and late diagnoses

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) has upheld a complaint from the family of a woman who died of late diagnosed cancer. The SPSO has said that the GP practice fell below the General Medical Council (GMC) standards in its care for the patient. 

The GP practice has not been named but is a member of the NHS Highland Health Board. Doctors did not reasonably diagnose an “extremely large” tumour according to the watchdog, and failed to identify the recurrence of cancer that the patient, Mrs A, had suffered from in earlier years. It claimed that errors had led to an unreasonable delay” in her diagnosis, which later resulted in Mrs A’s death.

“extremely large high-grade tumour”

Seven months after surgery for breast cancer in 2012, when an “extremely large high-grade tumour” was removed, Mrs A consulted the practice about back pain and spasms. She was also suffering from a cough and wheezing. Mrs A had four telephone consultations with three of her GPs during the summer of 2013, upon which she was prescribed painkillers and an inhaler.

Mrs A contacted NHS 24 a day after her last consultation as she was experiencing difficulty breathing. The out-of-hours doctor who made the home call diagnosed pneumonia and advised her to contact her GP practice. She did this and was referred immediately to hospital due to her history of cancer. Mrs A was admitted to hospital where she died before any cancer treatment could be started. She was found to have numerous cancerous growths and a build-up of fluid in her lungs.

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