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HDC Case: Reporting of skin cancer results and arrangement of follow up

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner

 

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill today released a report finding a general practitioner (GP) and a medical centre in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for not communicating a man’s skin cancer results to him or arranging follow up.

 

The GP removed a suspected skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma) from the man’s left cheek and sent it for testing. The test report showed a confirmed basal cell carcinoma and recommended further excision to make sure all the cancer had been fully removed. Although the GP saw the results, he did not communicate the results to the man or arrange necessary follow up. The man returned to the medical centre several times over the next five years, but the incomplete removal of the skin cancer was not raised again. Eventually, the cancer returned on the man’s left cheek.

Anthony Hill considered that the man had a right to information about the test results showing a confirmed skin cancer, and the recommendation that further excision was required. The man also had a right to a follow-up plan.

"The man was deprived of the opportunity to make decisions about his care until the disease had reached an advanced stage," Mr Hill said. "By not arranging the follow-up care that the man required, the opportunity to provide timely treatment for the [basal cell carcinoma] was missed, and the disease advanced unchecked for a period of more than five years."

Mr Hill was also critical of the medical centre for not having robust policies for the management of test results. He recommended that the medical centre audit 30 minor surgeries to determine whether the results were communicated to the patients in a timely manner, and whether follow-up management was appropriate; provide further training to its staff on the management of test results; and consider a number of improvements to its policy for the management of investigation results. Mr Hill also recommended that the GP and the medical centre apologise to the man.

The full report for case 18HDC01066 can be found on the HDC website

 


Last updated : Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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