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Patient who died after colon removal wasn't informed of risks

New Zealand Herald, 7:42 PM Monday Mar 23, 2015

Patient who died after colon removal wasn't informed of risks
7:42 PM Monday Mar 23, 2015

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Health and Disability Commissioner
Medical Council of NZ
New Zealand

File photo / Thinkstock File photo / Thinkstock

A patient who had a section of his colon removed, then died after further surgery and complications had not been informed of risks and alternative options, the health watchdog has found.

Health and disability commissioner Anthony Hill found the surgeon who first saw the patient, known as Mr A, had breached the Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights code when he failed to discuss all available treatment options with Mr A after a 17mm polyp was removed from his large intestine during a colonoscopy on January 30, 2012.

The surgeon, referred to as Dr D, also found diverticulosis from an earlier scan.

Polyps are fleshy growths that occur on the lining of the inside of the bowel. Most are benign, however some can become cancerous. Initial tests indicated Mr A's was cancerous. Diverticulosis occurs when pouches defects in the muscle of the large intestine or colon wall allow small pouches - diverticula - to form.

Mr A also suffered from a raft of serious co-morbidities.

In Mr Hill's report, released today, Dr D told Mr A and his wife the couple's best option was surgery.

Mr A had a section of his sigmoid colon removed as a result. He stayed in hospital for nearly three weeks after the March 1, 2012, operation.

Other complications arose later in the year and Mr A underwent another surgical procedure - performed by a second surgeon.

Despite this and further medical intervention, Mr A's health continued to deteriorate and he eventually died.

Mr Hill said Mr A had not been able to give informed consent to his March 1 surgery. He recommended Dr D send a written apology to Mr A's family and review his practice regarding patients with severe co-morbidities.

He also noted the Medical Council of New Zealand process were ongoing in relation to Dr D.