A doctor who failed to test a patient with prostate cancer in a timely manner has been asked to apologise by a health watchdog who has also asked that the medical centre undergo a random audit.
Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill today released a report finding a general practitioner (GP) and his medical centre breached the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights by failing to carry out the necessary testing in a timely way.
When the patient's prostate specific antigen (PSA) was tested in July 2014 and then retested a month later both results showed slightly elevated results.
The GP told the patient he could arrange a specialist review if there were any urinary problems and that otherwise those levels needed to be tested 6-12 monthly.
However, the GP did not set a recall for the testing to be done and the patient requested his repeat prescriptions using a new online tool.
At that time, patients at the centre could easily do so without a face-to-face consultation.
The GP requested blood tests for the man about a year after the elevated PSA tests, but a PSA test was not included, and the GP told the man by email that he should not need PSA testing for another year.
The GP issued further repeat prescriptions.
On March 15 2016, the patient presented with urinary retention and was referred to the hospital urology service.
About 20 months after the first tests, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Hill considered that both the GP and the medical centre did not provide the man with reasonable care and skill in providing health care services.
The GP failed to ensure the man's PSA levels were managed appropriately.
The medical centre did not have adequate processes in place to pick up that the man was due for a PSA test.
However, since these events the medical centre has made changes to reduce the likelihood of a similar error happening again.
Hill recommended the medical centre carry out a random audit of 50 patients from the past three months to identify compliance with its new processes.
The GP has also made changes to his practice.
Hill recommended the GP provide a letter of apology to the patient.