‘Better safe than sorry’: What doctors told patient after removing his bowel by mistake!

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A man who went to his GP with a stomach upset has told how doctors removed part of his bowel after wrongly diagnosing cancer. James McLeish was left having to wear a colostomy bag and was not even told of the disastrous cancer mistake until he returned  to hospital for a check-up. A surgeon told him: ‘I’ve got some good news for you. You haven’t got cancer after all.’ When the retired bus driver, who had previously enjoyed good health, expressed his astonishment, the consultant said: ‘Better safe than sorry.’

The Mail on Sunday has seen a confidential report which exposes a catalogue of incompetence and failure of leadership at the Queen Alexandra Hospital  in Portsmouth, where Mr McLeish was treated. In one of the most glaring mistakes, the phrase ‘no dysplasia’ – referring to an absence of abnormal cells on an ulcer found in Mr McLeish’s body – was read at a case conference as ‘dysplasia’. The omission of the word ‘no’ led doctors to believe cancer was likely and on that basis they went  ahead with the operation.

The document also reveals that:

  • A biopsy was wrongly interpreted as showing signs of cancer;
  • Surgeons operated without first reading his pathology report, which plays a vital role in cancer diagnosis;
  • Consultants were given incomplete medical notes;
  • Three surgeons had expressed concern about hospital procedures but their complaints were apparently ignored.

Mr McLeish is to receive £60,000 compensation from Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust after his negligence claim was settled out of court. The sequence of events began when the 69-year-old widower, from Havant, went to his GP after a bout of diarrhoea. He was referred to the Queen  Alexandra where he underwent a series of tests and was told that a tumour had been found in his colon.

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In November 2011 surgeons removed part of his bowel and he spent two weeks in hospital recovering from the operation, which left him needing to use a colostomy bag. He moved in with his son and, when he eventually returned home, became a virtual recluse, too embarrassed to see friends and family.  Mr. McLeish said: ‘I changed my lifestyle and didn’t see anyone. I would not leave the house as the bag would tend to burst on me. I had to change it at home which made me very sick and it was very inconvenient. I was in good health until all this happened.’ He had another operation to repair the colon and remove the colostomy bag but this still left him with major problems with everyday life. ‘I completely lost my appetite and over a stone in weight. Physically and psychologically I did not feel like myself,’ he said. It was only when he returned to the Queen Alexandra for a routine check-up that he was told his suffering had been entirely unnecessary because the cancer diagnosis had been wrong.

Trust chief executive Ursula Ward has now written to him, apologizing for the substandard care. Mr. McLeish’s solicitor, Paul Crook, of law firm Ross Aldridge, said: ‘As a result of an appalling clinical error Mr. McLeish was subjected  to extremely invasive and wholly unnecessary surgery. ‘While no amount of money will turn the clock back, the settlement does in part recompense him for all the unnecessary pain and suffering he has endured and will continue to live with.’ Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: ‘Patients deserve to feel confident that their prescribed course of treatment is clinically right. ‘Trusts need to ensure their procedures prevent avoidable surgery which can have devastating long-terms impacts on the quality of patients’ lives.’

 Source : DM

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