A delayed diagnosis left Whanganui man Keith Hindson facing extensive surgery and post-operative radiotherapy.
Hindson, who suffered invasive tongue cancer, would have avoided such extensive surgery with a prompt diagnosis, a hearing in Whanganui has ruled.
He was a patient of oral surgeon Dr Peter Liston, who admitted professional misconduct at the Health Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal. The two-day hearing at the Collegiate Motel Inn ended on Thursday.
Liston is from New Plymouth and provides oral and maxillofacial surgery services in Whanganui and Taranaki.
Hindson developed invasive tongue cancer after delays in diagnosis of a lesion and referral for specialist treatment, because biopsy results were misread. The charges cover the period from December 2, 2011 to November 29, 2013.
As well as admitting three charges of failure to recommend and/or provide appropriate treatment, Liston also admitted failing to obtain his patient's informed consent to treatment and failing to keep clear and detailed or accurate notes of his consultations with Hindson.
At the beginning of the second day of the hearing on Thursday, Liston apologised to Hindson.
"I appreciate you have had a long, hard journey. I am sorry for the problems it has caused you."
Tribunal chairman David Carden said the tribunal had significant concern for Hindson's predicament and the consequences for his future as well as during the period relating to the charges.
"Nothing from the outcome of this hearing in any way minimises those consequences," Carden said.
The tribunal ordered that a censure be placed on Liston's record for as long as he is alive. It fined him $5000 and ordered Liston to pay $21,000 (30 per cent) towards the hearing costs.
Carden said the tribunal had taken into account Liston's decision not to seek permanent name suppression. Publication of his name would have a significant impact on him personally and financially, on his family and on his community standing.
The tribunal also made "strong recommendations" to the Whanganui District Health Board where Liston has a clinic.
It recommended the health board put in place - and that Liston participate in - active engagement in clinical reviews with the surgical group within the health board so there was collegial support for each other and collegial presentation to the board of any needs there might be.
The tribunal also recommended that the health board put in place - and Liston participate in - non-patient contact time for Liston to actively review patient records, reports and test results, to ensure proper review and management of results, within normal working hours and within the hospital environment.
The tribunal's reasons for its decisions will be included in its written report.
Prosecutor Lisa Preston told the tribunal that Liston's professional misconduct "encompasses multiple failures in the care he provided to the patient, including a critical failure to understand his patient's diagnosis and therefore a failure to recommend and provide appropriate treatment on three separate occasions".
As a result of these failures "the patient's cancer diagnosis was significantly delayed".
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