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Doctor criticised over cervical smear

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/10/2016

A woman who had a routine cervical smear found out about the abnormal result only months later, when a clinic called her on the day of her colposcopy appointment.

When she complained to the medical centre where she had the test, she was told her complaint would be investigated, but received no further feedback.

A Health and Disability Commissioner's report has found a doctor at the medical centre breached the woman's rights by failing to action the result of the October 2013 test and inform her about it.

The doctor told the HDC that he was informed during his orientation at the medical centre that specific nurses routinely did the cervical smears.

He was also under the impression that, if he did do a smear, the nurses would follow up the results.

The doctor eventually referred the woman to the colposcopy clinic after an inquiry from the National Cervical Screening Programme about whether the referral had been made.

Commissioner Anthony Hill said that, regardless of the doctor's mistaken assumption and misunderstanding about the process, he had failed to do the basics.

Had he reviewed his medical notes before making the referral, he would have realised that the woman had not been advised of the smear result.

Mr Hill recommended that the doctor provide evidence of changes he had made to his practice, undertake a random audit of his clinical records and apologise to the woman.

He said the medical centre should take steps to avoid a repetition of events and apologise to the woman for its handling of her complaint.

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