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GP criticised over abdominal pain patient

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/08/2016

A GP has been told he should look over his patients' records to ensure all those with undiagnosed abdominal pain have been identified and have received appropriate testing if needed.

The recommendation from Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill comes after the general practitioner was found to have failed to investigate the cause of an elderly woman's abdominal pain.

The woman, who was 74 at the time, came to see the GP, who told her the pain might be caused by bowel cancer, but she did not meet the criteria for a public referral for a colonoscopy.

He did not conduct any laboratory tests but prescribed her a laxative in case her symptoms were caused by constipation.

The result of a second visit that the woman made to the GP a month later was similar.

The woman went to see another GP, who examined her and conducted laboratory tests, after which the woman was immediately referred to a public hospital.

During surgery for suspected appendicitis, a tumour found and a hemicolectomy (removal of one side of the colon) was performed.

Mr Hall said the first GP should have ordered further diagnostic testing to confirm or allay his suspicion that bowel cancer was the cause of the pain.

In not doing so, the GP had failed to provide services to his patient with reasonable care and skill.

Mr Hall also considered the GP's clinical record-keeping to be inadequate and made adverse comment about his communication with the woman.

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