Doctor who failed to spot cancer ‘got it wrong’

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A DOCTOR who repeatedly failed to spot the warning signs of cancer has admitted he got things “badly wrong”. Dr Shehzad Ali has been accused of failing to recognise his worried patient’s symptoms.

And it is claimed he failed to assess the man – known only as Patient A – “adequately or at all” on several occasions.

The practitioner, who works at Springwell Medical Centre, has been hauled before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel.

The action follows a complaint from the patient – who turned out to have the deadly disease 18 months after he was first assessed.

At the hearing, held in Manchester, the GP accepted he failed to adequately assess the patient on eight occasions and did not examine him adequately at six consultations while treating him between June 2011 and January 2012.

The doctor also failed to refer the man to a gastrointestinal specialist despite indications of a serious illness.

The patient complained to the General Medical Council (GMC) after he was diagnosed with cancer in December 2012, leading to charges being brought against the doctor by the professional body.

Dr Ali admitted “failing to provide good clinical care” on the first day of the hearing yesterday.

Michael Mylonas QC, representing Dr Ali, said: “It is clear from the admissions made by me on the doctor’s behalf this morning that he admits he went wrong, and badly wrong, in this case.

“From the very first time he found out about this he has accepted he went wrong in respect of this patient.”

After learning of the diagnosis, Dr Ali sent the patient letters of apology expressing “sorrow and sympathy” and saying that he hoped he “felt better”, the hearing was told.

The panel, chaired by Professor Tim Hendra, heard that Dr Ali failed to arrange investigations when a blood test revealed low levels of iron and failed to refer the patient to a gastrointestinal specialist on three separate dates.

Even when he did finally make the referral on November 21, 2011, he did not ensure it was urgent and did not include an adequate history or appropriate information on blood test results in the letter.

Dr Ali has also admitted to inadequate record keeping in respect of a number of the appointments and to an error when prescribing antibiotics.

An expert report on the doctor’s actions stated: “The overall standard of care provided by Dr Ali [to the patient] fell below that expected of a reasonably competent General Practitioner.”

Alan Taylor, for the GMC, told the panel that the patient’s low iron level along with his other presenting symptoms should have indicated an urgent referral.

Dr Ali, who qualified at the University of Glasgow in 2002, has accepted the report’s findings and the panel heard that he sent a letter to the patient expressing his “sorrow and sympathy” when he found out he had been diagnosed with cancer.

He is currently not subject to any restrictions, but if the MPTS panel finds against him it could impose a string of conditions or even suspend him from the medical register.

The Springwell Medical Centre serves patients in the Gorgie and Dalry area.

The hearing continues.