Posted by Paul Rumley, Partner
Breast cancer diagnosis: are GPs learning from mistakes in primary care?
Recent statistics about secondary breast cancer diagnosis leave our team with concerns. Paul Rumley comments on what he thinks this says about the current state of primary care.
Shocking statistics were released this week showing that one in four patients with secondary breast cancer had to visit a GP three times before they had a diagnosis.
With time being a critical factor in the treatment of cancer, and the difficulties many people have securing a GP appointment in the over-burdened and under-resourced NHS, this new information shows a concerning level of errors when it comes to treating such a deadly disease.
However, according to partner in our team Paul Rumley who is a specialist in diagnosis failures as recognised in the recent Chambers & Partners Directory, errors may not be the only issue here:
“Whilst the symptoms of secondary breast cancer might be difficult to spot, that may not provide a defence to a patient who claims their diagnosis has been negligently delayed.
The very fact that there is a well-known risk of secondary tumours following breast cancer must surely mean that GPs should have a high level of suspicion and be exercising a low threshold for further investigations with such patients who present with unexplained symptoms following a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
It’s not that the NHS makes errors that is necessarily the most important factor – it’s whether or not they then learn from those errors, using the clinical knowledge we know have about how breast cancer acts, to inform future treatment and therefore patient safety.”
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