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Patient not told for a year that he had cancer, inquiry hears

A 58-YEAR-OLD man who had a tumour in his chest had to wait more than a year to be told that it was cancerous -- despite an early positive result from a laboratory.

By the time he was informed, the man was a month away from death from the incurable cancer, which by then had spread to his lungs.

Despite having a mole removed in August 2008, the man never received a follow-up appointment.

Nor was he told that a lab examination showed that the mole was cancerous, a fitness-to-practise inquiry at the Medical Council was told yesterday.

The man, identified only as Mr S, only found out the results of the test when he turned up at Tallaght Hospital's accident and emergency department, complaining of chest pains.

He died on December 6, 2009 -- less than a month later.

The chief executive officer of the Medical Council alleges that the man's supervising surgeon, Dr Massood Ahmed, is guilty of poor professional practice for failing to ensure that Mr S received follow-up treatment and for failing to consider a biopsy carried out on the mole.

Dr Ahmed's barrister, Oisin Quinn, told the inquiry that his client never received a histology report, showing that the mole was cancerous. He said Mr S's death was the result of a multi-factorial failure at St Columcille's Hospital in Lough- linstown, Co Dublin.

The mole had been removed there by Dr Ahmed's registrar, Dr Fisal Nasir.


Mr S had been referred by his GP to see Dr Ahmed in his private practice in the Beacon Hospital. However, because the patient had no private health insurance, Dr Ahmed agreed to have the procedure carried out publicly at St Columcille's.

On August 14 the mole was removed by Dr Nasir and sent off for analysis.

Dr Fisal told the inquiry that as he -- and not Dr Ahmed -- carried out the operation, it appeared that Mr S was a public patient.

However, a nurse at the hospital, Linda Filmore, told the inquiry that from Mr S's admission documents there was no doubt that he was a private patient.

She said if Mr S had been a public patient a follow-up appointment would automatically have been made for him.

Instead, said Ms Filmore, as Mr S was a private patient, he would have been told verbally that he was expected to make his own appointment to obtain his test results.

Shortly after the operation, Mr S attended his local GP practice on an unrelated matter, where he was seen by nurse Carol Canning.

She told the inquiry Mr S told her about the mole and that he had a follow-up appointment in three weeks.

However, the inquiry heard that Mr S did not receive a follow-up appointment, nor any further treatment.

Mr S's wife said that her husband didn't mention the matter again until the following year when he told her of a lump under his arm and became ill.

"When he went to Tallaght (A&E department) they got the results from Loughlinstown and they were quite astonished. So was he," said Mrs S.

The inquiry continues today.

Irish Independent