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Skin-Cancer Misreads No Surprise

Media release
8 April 2000

Skin-Cancer Misreads No Surprise

Reports that Gisborne Pathologist Dr Michael Bottrill may have misread slides for different cancers should come as no surprise, says the Hon Phillida Bunkle.

“In fact this vindicates what I have been saying from the outset. There is no evidence that the mistakes Dr Bottrill made are limited to his reading of cervical smears. In fact there is mounting evidence that he misread other cancers slides and I urge the Commission of Inquiry to consider this,” Ms Bunkle said.

“On Monday, the Commission of Inquiry starts its daunting task of investigating Dr Bottrill’s reading of cervical smears between 1991 and 1996. I believe that other cancer screenings need to be scrutinised as part of this Inquiry.”

ACC is investigating at least three claims for medical misadventure from people who claimed their prostate and skin cancers were misread by Dr Bottrill.

Ms Bunkle, the Alliance Party's health spokesperson, publicised two skin cancer cases last year to highlight concerns over misreads. One case involved a man, aged 22, who died after developing a cancerous growth on his wrist.

The second case involved a woman, now aged 52, who had radical surgery after a cancer was found on her shoulder. A Palmerston North pathologist confirmed her misreading and her case was referred to ACC by her general practitioner.

“When I first raised these skin-cases publicly in November last year, former health minister Wyatt Creech said then, the Inquiry could consider them under the general term of reference.

“It’s clear there is support for the other cancer misreads to be scrutinised. I note that my colleague Health Minister Annette King has promised to look at all evidence raised during the inquiry, and if further investigation is needed, that could occur as part of a subsequent inquiry.”


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