A Fife GP practice has been told to apologise to a woman after four of its doctors failed to diagnose her late partner’s sore shoulder was actually advanced lung cancer.
One of the four GPs went so far as to advise the patient that he “absolutely did not have cancer”.
The case came to light when the woman complained to the Scottish Ombudsman about the care and treatment he received prior to his death.
The man, referred to as Mr A in the watchdog’s report, had visited the unnamed practice on a number of occasions during a five-month period in 2015.
His partner, described as Ms C, said he spoke to a series of GPs about his severe shoulder pain and was repeatedly prescribed painkillers which were ineffective.
He was also referred for physiotherapy and a chest x-ray.
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It was only when Mr A was finally sent for a CT scan, after his initial request was refused, that he was told he had cancer.
The ombudsman upheld Ms C’s complaint that there had been an unreasonable delay in referring him to a specialist.
The probe found four of the six GPs involved in Mr A’s care and treatment had failed to take appropriate action to determine the cause of his shoulder pain.
The ombudsman said: “We found that the GPs had failed to consider the complete picture in that Mr A had attended the practice on numerous occasions within a short time frame and they dealt with the symptoms reported at the time of the consultations.
“They had not fully considered the previous consultations which would have allowed them to be better informed of the situation.”
The ombudsman also found one of the doctors had incorrectly advised the patient had he “absolutely did not have cancer, despite the fact that no specialist opinion had been obtained.
“This would have given Mr A false reassurance,” said the ombudsman.
The report went on: “I am also aware that, due to the pressures on the NHS, it is often the case that a patient will not see the same GP for a continuing medical problems.
“Therefore, it is critically important in such situations that the GPs involved are familiar with patients’ records and medical notes and listen to them.”
The practice is said to have accepted the ombudsman’s recommendations to address the issues raised and pledged to act on them.
It was also asked to apologise to Ms C for the failure to refer her late partner for a specialist opinion at an earlier stage.