Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Hospital Breaches Duty of Care in Cancer Test Case

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Hospital Breaches Duty of Care in Cancer Test Case

Article excerpt

Byline: Michelle Gately

LAWYERS for Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service have admitted Rockhampton Hospital breached its duty of care during a cancer testing procedure, which a woman says caused her "major psychological trauma" and acute heart condition.

Documents lodged in Rockhampton District Court claim the woman was forced to have aggressive cancer therapy after the sentinel node which was to be used to determine treatment options was "inadvertently discarded".

A letter from the hospital's lawyers has been included in the woman's claim. It states Rockhampton Hospital "admits that it breached its duty of care" to the woman in losing the node.

According to court documents, the then 63-year-old woman was admitted to Rockhampton Hospital in March 2014 with a breast cancer diagnosis.

The Morning Bulletin has not named the woman due to the extent of the psychological injuries she says she suffered,

The lymph node specimen was "lost or discarded in transit from the operating theatre to the pathology laboratory", the claim says.

The sentinel nodes are the first lymph nodes into which a tumour drains, if found to be free of cancer then it's likely the disease hasn't spread and removing extra lymph nodes is unnecessary.

When told two weeks later, the woman claims she became distressed.

"As an ex-nurse she would have some technical knowledge of the implications of this (the loss of the sentinel node)," a report included in the documents says.

A second report stated the woman was "furious, upset, had never heard of such a thing" and was "very distressed".

Without conclusive results from the node, the woman was advised to go through the highest chemotherapy treatment of six cycles.

Had the node returned a negative test, this treatment would have been reduced to four cycles.

After being told of the node's loss, the woman claims she developed Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy.

This sudden temporary weakening of the heart muscle is a recognised cause of acute heart failure and other serious conditions. …

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