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NHS Highland chiefs apologise for treatment of mum who died of cancer

Iain Stewart.
Iain Stewart.

Health chiefs have apologised for failings in the care and treatment of a mum who died of cancer after her illness went undiagnosed twice.

NHS Highland claimed “significant improvements” have since been made.

The health authority was heavily criticised for the handling of care of the patient, who twice went to Lorn and Islands Hospital on the outskirts of Oban after suffering bouts of vomiting.

Woman died of cancer after wrongly being diagnosed and discharged from Highland hospital twice

The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) upheld a complaint made by the family and found the woman had been given incorrect diagnosis and was “unreasonably discharge” prior to her cancer finally being discovered.

NHS Highland’s chief executive Iain Stewart said he would like to “sincerely apologise” to the patient’s family for “the failings in care and treatment provided”.

He added: “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.”

Conservative Highland MSP Edward Mountain said: “A life has been tragically lost and my thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.

“Serious lessons must be learnt by the health board so that this situation never happens again.”

The SPSO, in upholding a complaint made by the woman’s son over her treatment, also found there had been a delay in getting scans and that inaccurate information was given to the woman’s family.

It has made a series of recommendations to prevent other families from suffering similar distress.

In their findings, SPSO said: “Mrs A [the patient] initially presented to the emergency department experiencing vomiting.

“Following assessment, Mrs A received antibiotics and was discharged home. Mrs A returned to the emergency department two days later again with vomiting symptoms.

“After further assessment was carried out, Mrs A was discharged home. Mrs A attended the hospital again approximately five days later and was admitted to a ward.

“During the admission, investigations were carried out which indicated that Mrs A had metastatic cancer (cancer that has spread to other parts of the body).

“Mrs A’s condition deteriorated during the admission and she died from her illness.”

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