NHS Highland ordered to apologise after misdiagnosis of cancer death woman

A health board has been ordered to apologise to the family of a woman who died from cancer, after she was incorrectly diagnosed with a urinary tract infection the week before her death.

The woman twice went to Oban’s Lorn and Islands Hospital complaining of vomiting symptoms, but was “unreasonably” discharged both times, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) has ruled.

She was incorrectly diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and given a course of antibiotics on the first occasion. She returned, with the same symptoms, two days later, only to be discharged home.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

When the woman, who has not been named, attended the hospital for a third time five days on, she was admitted to a ward. Tests subsequently found cancer had spread throughout her body and she died from her illness.

Lorn and Islands hospital.

The SPSO yesterday upheld a series of complaints from the woman’s son about her treatment, stating that she was discharged from hospital without having her symptoms effectively managed.

The ombudsman also flagged up the incorrect diagnosis, and said the woman’s second admission was “poorly documented.”

Even after she was admitted to a ward, it added, there was an “unreasonable delay” in obtaining a CT scan of her chest and abdomen.

The SPSO, which took independent advice from a consultant in general medicine and a registered nurse, said that following the son’s complaint, NHS Highland had apologised that inaccurate information was given to the family members over how long it took to obtain test results.

It also criticised the board’s “unreasonable” delay in responding to his complaint.

In response to the failings, the SPSO said NHS Highland should apologise for the failures.

A spokesman for the health board said: “NHS Highland’s chief executive Iain Stewart would like to sincerely apologise to the patient’s family for the failings in care and treatment provided.

“We have reviewed the findings within the report and have shared the recommendations with all the professionals involved, and have now made a significant number of improvements to current practices.”