News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Prescription Error For Woman With Respiratory Complaint

Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell today released a report finding a general practitioner (GP) in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failures in the care of a woman who presented with a respiratory complaint.

The woman, aged in her sixties at the time of events, had a history of asthma. She saw her GP after becoming unwell with symptoms of a tight chest, sore throat, and upset stomach.

The GP prescribed the woman with prednisone, a steroid medication, at a dosage of 80mg a day for a week, to be reduced to 40mg a day for another week. However, the woman remained unwell, and the GP extended the length of time she was to take the medication. Following this consultation, the woman began taking 100mg of prednisone a day, believing this to be the GP’s instruction. However, the GP stated that this was not his instruction. The GP saw the woman again after having been told by the medical centre’s practice nurse that she was taking 100mg of prednisone daily. He said that he advised her to reduce the dosage. However, the woman stated that she did not begin reducing her dosage until a GP friend later advised her to do so.

Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell found a number of failures in the care provided by the GP to the woman. These included commencing the woman on a higher than recommended dose of prednisone, failing to measure and record her peak expiratory flow rate, inadequate documentation for his consultations with the woman, and failing to take sufficient care with a prescription.

"[T]hat there was such a divergence in the parties’ understanding of what [the GP] advised [the woman] highlights the need for clear instructions. … [C]lear instructions are vitally important when a medication regimen is at all complicated, and [the GP] should have documented what he told [the woman] about her prednisone dosage."

The GP is now overseas. Ms McDowell recommended that should he return to New Zealand, he should undertake a clinical notes audit and review the New Zealand Asthma Guidelines, and report back on any changes made to his practice as a result. She also recommended that the GP provide a written apology to the woman, and that the Medical Council consider whether a review of his competency is warranted.

Ms McDowell also noted that the New Zealand Formulary (an independent resource that provides clinically validated medicines information for health professionals) provides refined information with respect to steroid use for specific conditions (including asthma), and that this advice is consistent with the New Zealand Asthma Guidelines. The Commissioner encouraged clinicians to use the New Zealand Formulary for accessing up-to-date prescribing information.

To read the full report on case 19HDC01826, visit the HDC website.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press.

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland