New Zealand Woman Dies After Doctor 'Forgot' to Diagnose Her with Breast Cancer

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By Reissa Su | August 25, 2014 5:36 PM EST

A woman from New Zealand has died without knowing she had breast cancer because her doctor "completely forgot" to tell her. According to reports, the woman's doctor is now being ordered to apologise to the woman's family for failing to diagnose her.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
Women toss their bras during the 5th Pink Bra Spring and Bra Toss and help Push Up the Fight Against Breast Cancer event at the Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris March 16, 2014.

In a report released by the New Zealand Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill, the GP, was told to review his practice and go over his clinical files to ensure he will not miss any more patients with cancer.

The New Zealand woman received breast cancer treatment in 2003. In November 2009, she consulted an unidentified medical centre and complained of left shoulder pain. The doctor was aware she had survived cancer and suggested an X-ray. A specialist radiologist informed the doctor of the woman's x-ray results which showed a tendon tear with "highly suggestive metastasis." This indicated a spread of cancerous lesions, reports said.

The woman visited the GP several days later, but he failed to tell her about the possible cancer. The doctor only told his patient that she had a tendon tear. He gave a steroid injection which the woman described as "excruciating."

The doctor told the woman to come back after a month if the pain continues. She did return twice, once in December and another in January. The GP finally referred her case to an orthopaedic surgeon.

The Kiwi woman was diagnosed in February 2010 after switching doctors. She was actively seeking treatment but eventually died.

The report said the doctor admitted to "either overlooking or completely forgetting about the radiologist's comment."

Hill slammed the doctor for failing to read his notes, ask the correct questions in relation to his patient's condition and consider her medical history. He said doctors are responsible for their patient's test results. He added they have the duty to advise them and conduct follow-ups.

The name of the woman is withheld in reports to protect her and her family's privacy. The Director of Proceedings will determine if the doctor will face legal action. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier / )
Women toss their bras during the 5th Pink Bra Spring and Bra Toss and help Push Up the Fight Against Breast Cancer event at the Trocadero Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris March 16, 2014.
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