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Follow-up care of woman with bowel issues

Follow-up care of woman with bowel issues

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner


Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill today released a report finding a general practitioner in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for inadequate care provided to a woman with bowel issues.

His report concerns the care the woman received at two consultations, the tests ordered, the examinations performed and the lack of clear communication.

Mr Hill found that the doctor failed to provide services to the woman with reasonable care and skill. The doctor failed to order a complete blood count but ordered a different test without realising it was not recommended. She did not perform a digital rectal examination at the second consultation and did not process a referral for a colonoscopy in a timely manner nor did she advise the woman of the estimated wait time for an appointment. When the doctor eventually made the referral she failed to do so appropriately.

Mr Hill said providing advice about estimated wait times was important when making referrals.

"It enables patients to take an active role in their care, particularly in terms of knowing when to follow up if an appointment has not been received within the expected timeframe," Mr Hill said.

Mr Hill also considered that by not promptly informing the woman of the delay in making the referral the doctor failed to provide her with information a reasonable person in her circumstances would expect to receive.

"Effective communication and open disclosure are vital to ensuring and maintaining a good relationship between a patient and a healthcare provider," Mr Hill said.

Mr Hill recommended that the doctor apologise to the woman, arrange an independent audit of referrals she had instigated, and enter into a mentoring relationship with a general practitioner.

The full report into case 18HDC00740 is available on the HDC website.


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