Man dies of cancer after doctors fail to detect cancer

Date: Dec 16, 2019

An Adelaide man recently died after medical professionals at Queen Elizabeth Hospital failed to properly diagnose him with stomach cancer in 2018. The 70-year-old had had bladder cancer 10 years ago, and went in for his regular screening in July 2018.

At the time, he was told his scan had come back clear and that he was cancer-free. Instead, staff had missed that he, in fact, had developed stomach cancer.

Missed diagnosis

Health authorities apologised for the failure and admitted guilt in the misdiagnosis, but by the time the man had received a proper diagnosis, the cancer had escalated to stage four cancer and had become terminal.

South Australian (SA) Health officials further admitted that radiology staff also failed to detect the cancer in multiple scans dating back to February 2017, making his prognosis dire by the time he received a proper diagnosis. The diagnosis came after the patient began to lose weight rapidly and experienced stomach pains. He eventually received a correct diagnosis from professionals at Lyell McEwin Hospital.

The SA Health investigation revealed the radiologist saw a thickening of the stomach wall, but did not raise the issue to great enough attention, placing the observation in the body of their radiology report rather than the conclusion. Further, the oncologist who read the report did not read the body of the report, skipping instead to the conclusion, where the relevant information had not been placed.

Suing for compensation and change

By the time he was properly diagnosed, the cancer had become inoperable, leading to a terminal prognosis. He decided to sue for damages, filing a claim against SA Health for compensation due to medical negligence. The plaintiff said that, in addition to financial compensation for him and his family, he wanted to spark change within the system that failed him.

“Hopefully it builds a fire under SA Health to do something about their bloody system,” he said.

After more than a year since the final failed misdiagnosis, the man died. He continued to experience physical pain during his final months before passing away.

Have you or a loved one suffered the consequences of medical negligence and are considering your legal options to receive compensation for lost income or psychological damage?

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