Urgent surgery patient waits 78 days after error

  • 31/08/2015
Urgent surgery patient waits 78 days after error

A woman has died from cancer after a clerical error left her waiting more than two months for urgent surgery.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill today released a report criticising Capital & Coast District Health Board for failing to provide timely and adequate treatment for the woman and giving her family the impression she would be fine after her operation.

The patient was diagnosed with kidney cancer in July, 2012 after presenting symptoms for over a year, and was meant to be booked into urgent surgery to have a cancerous kidney removed as part of her treatment.

But her appointment was incorrectly made as "semi-urgent" instead, leaving her to wait 78 days for surgery.

During the operation it was found it was too late to remove all the cancer, due to it spreading.

The woman soon after began chemotherapy but it was discontinued and she died in hospice care.

Mr Hill said the staff at the hospital had also failed to properly assess the progress of her condition before operating, given the length of time between the booking and the surgery, and the family were given an impression the surgery would remove the cancer.

But the hospital said it was not unusual for surgery to proceed on the basis it would remove the cancer only to find it was inoperable later.

"I accept [the patient] and her daughter-in-law left that clinic appointment with the impression that 'everything would be fine'... however, I am certain that given the information recorded in my notes I would not have minimised the seriousness of the disease or falsely reassured the patient," her GP said.

Mr Hill asked the DHB to apologise to the woman's family and to review its surgical booking system and urology department staffing.