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Mass mistake or just plain inefficiency – how would twenty doctors missed spotting a cancer tumour that led to a patient to die

Friday, 23 March 2012
Although the man was examined by at least 20 or maybe as many as 30 doctors they failed to discover his cancer of the oesophagus until it was too late. The man died a few weeks after it was discovered.

The incident occurred in January last year and now the Swedish health and welfare board, Socialstyrelsen, is facing some of its sharpest criticism especially because of the many people involved in that care of the patient.

It claims, among other things, that gastroscopy was performed much earlier, thus giving the patient a better chance of surviving according to media reports.

The man sought help at the health center in Årjäng, Sweden for abdominal pain, loss of appetite and bloody sputum. He was sent to the hospital in Arvika, where there he was ultrasound and chest radiography carried out. It was concluded that the pain was due to a rib fracture.

Six months later, he sought help again, and new surveys were made in Arvika and also at the Central hospital there. This time he was prescribed laxatives and pain relievers. However, there was a suspicion that he had cancerous lymphoma. A referral to radiology was written in July, but he was not called until October.

In early November, finally a gastroscopy was carried out which revealed that he had cancer of the oesophagus. A few weeks later the man died.

Summary of the Swedish healthcare management system – waiting times here can be very long and painful and it remains surprising how the country has low incidents of caner deaths.
By Teams

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