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Ophthalmology care and inadequate management of patient appointments (06HDC15893)
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(06HDC15893, 28 May 2008)
Ophthalmologist ~ Public hospital ~ District health board ~
Ophthalmology ~ Documentation ~ Appointment booking system ~
Glaucoma ~ Rights 4(1), 4(2), 4(5)
A 57-year-old man was referred to a public hospital's
ophthalmology clinic by his general practitioner, with a painful
eye and reduced vision. He saw the ophthalmologist at the clinic on
seven occasions over the next 16 months with episodes of sore eyes
and reduced vision.
The man then presented to the ophthalmologist with severely
reduced vision. The ophthalmologist diagnosed glaucoma and arranged
an appointment at the clinic the next week to investigate further.
That appointment was cancelled and the man did not receive any
further care from the clinic until his vision deteriorated and his
wife contacted the hospital six weeks later. By that stage, the man
was almost blind. He underwent urgent glaucoma drainage surgery on
each eye and subsequent investigations revealed widespread
low-grade B cell lymphoma. The man is now legally blind.
It was held that the ophthalmologist breached Right 4(1) and
Right 4(2), by failing to regularly measure the man's intraocular
pressures and failing to fully document his assessments in the
man's clinical record.
It was also held that the public hospital failed in its duty to
appropriately manage patient bookings and provide the man with
necessary follow-up appointments, and therefore breached Right
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