Surgeon at fault over op death

HEALTH chiefs have apologised to the family of a man who died following an operation after it emerged the surgeon had not read his full medical notes.

Hugh Petrie, 55, had an operation on his bowel in 2009. He died a few days after the surgery.

An investigation has found the NHS Lothian consultant who carried out the procedure did not access his medical notes prior to surgery, meaning he did not know of the joiner's previous operations.

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He has been criticised by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, which investigated the case. In the report it emerged that NHS Borders, Mr Petrie's home health board, did not send the full notes to Edinburgh as they were scared they might get lost as a result.

Mr Petrie, from Hawick, had part of his bowel removed in 2005, and subsequently contracted numerous infections and associated problems.

His partner Carol Tait, 49, said despite those issues, he was otherwise healthy.

His complications reached the stage where he was transferred to the care of Edinburgh's Western General Infirmary in 2008.

A letter from his consultant in the Borders documented some of his medical history, at no point did the Edinburgh consultant attempt to pull the complete file.

Ms Tait told the Evening News: "If he'd looked at his medical records he'd have the right amount of information.

"They might still have decided to go ahead with it anyway, but the aftercare would have been much stricter.He might have acted differently and Hugh might still be here.

"Nothing can bring him back, but I hope if they change things it might stop it happening to someone else."

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Mr Petrie died of sepsis and pneumonia on March 24, 2009, and when the unnamed consultant was informed, the report said he looked "visibly shocked".

The consultant himself claimed he would have "factored" Mr Petrie's medical history into his thinking, but felt the operation would have gone ahead anyway.

The Ombudsman said: "There were failings by the consultant in his actions relating to obtaining all of Mr Petrie's relevant medical history.

"It is the responsibility of the operating surgeon to ensure they are familiar with all aspects of a patient's clinical history, which may influence the decision to operate."

David Farquharson, NHS Lothian's medical director, said: "We are writing to Ms Tait to apologise for the distress caused following her partner's surgery. We are in the process of reviewing our policy on accessing medical records."