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Misdiagnosed patient got unnecessary chemo

AAP logoAAP 18/11/2016 Anna Hitchings

Two doctors have been hauled before the NSW Medical Council after misdiagnosing a woman with stage four liver cancer and giving her toxic levels of chemotherapy.

The blunder occurred when a surgeon failed to carry out extra tests on the woman, who had had a cancerous tumour removed from her bowel three years earlier, and referred her to an oncologist who recommended the chemotherapy without conducting further testing either.

The woman underwent toxic levels of chemo treatment at the undisclosed hospital for six months before the mistake was learned.

The NSW Health Care Complaints Commission referred both doctors to the Medical Council to face "further action" for the error.

The latest bungle for the NSW Health Department comes on the back of the chemotherapy underdosing scandal at St Vincent's Hospital and the accidental gassing of two babies, killing one and disabling the other, in Sydney in recent months.

The latest findings were released in the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission report, which also revealed a 15 per cent spike in complaints over the past year.

NSW Assistant Health Minister Pru Goward said the increase, which has followed a similar trend nationally and overseas, was due to a spectrum of issues.

"Factors such as the growing and ageing population, mandatory reporting, a broader range of health services now offered, together with better informed health consumers and an increasing public awareness of the Commission's function, have all contributed to that increase in the number of complaints," she said in a statement on Friday.

She added that the NSW government had increased the commission's budget by 7.1 per cent for next year "so that it can continue to respond to the increased volume and complexity of complaints received".

Neither Ms Goward nor Health Minister Jillian Skinner are commenting on the misdiagnosis or any of the case studies revealed in the report.

The misdiagnosed woman, whose tumours were revealed to be benign, is said to have made a full recovery.

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