Home Health and wellbeing

Apparently ok to tell someone incorrectly they have stage IV cancer

Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
edited February 2019 in Health and wellbeing
Got the decision back from my complaint regarding my previous surgeon. For those of you that don’t know my previous surgeon told me the day after my mastectomy, and before receiving pathology results that I had stage IV cancer and was in the fight of my life (his exact words). I was sent away as a blubbering mess with a blubbering husband at my side for a CT scan which turned out to be clear along with the lymph nodes. I complained to the health commission as I thought this was totally unprofessional and caused so much stress to myself and hubby - what would of happened if one or both of us had decided to harm ourselves after this incorrect diagnosis!!  

Apparently him telling me this based on a pathology report (after partial mastectomy) that said lymphovascular invasion and swollen lymph nodes at the time of mastectomy (which can also be caused by inflammation and I had recently had 2 other surgeries) means it was ok for him to tell me this. They say him recommending for me to see an oncologist for chemo and radiation was fine. They seem to be missing the whole point of the incorrect grading prior to pathology results. Wait until you get confirmation. I wasn’t going to be starting chemo or radiation the next day so keep your mouth shut. I’ll never forget the horrified look on the nurses face when he told me this.  I’ll also never forget that after that news was the first time I got on the forum - blubbering away whilst writing posts and getting support from you lovelies. 

I have sent sent his response to my oncologist for her review as she was confused by his referral letter which was still talking about stage 4 cancer, she had to request the slides so her pathologist could review them as the referral letter didn’t make sense. I’m also seeing my new surgeon in a couple of weeks and will get her thoughts. 

Im definitely going to be providing feedback to the commission and asking for a possible review!!

Sorry for the early morning rant everyone. Tossed and turned all night thinking about this. 


  • Doin'itDoin'it Member Posts: 377
    Oh @Kiwi Angel you & your husband must have felt distraught!!! He was TOTALLY unprofessional & inconsiderate & inhuman to make a diagnosis before he received pathology report!! We’re tough warriors & we face things when we have to, but that is downright wrong! Big hugs 🤗 
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    @Doodoo we were totally devastated and thought I was facing a death sentence. I have never cried so much I’m my life xo
  • Doin'itDoin'it Member Posts: 377
    He shouldn’t be allowed to practice! I wonder many other patients have felt the same devastation for no reason other his incompetence 
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,334
    Unfortunately, yours is not an isolated case. Good on you for pursuing it, though that takes emotional energy that comes at a personal cost. This behavior seems to be the domain of some surgeons, I can only assume its an ego thing. I've also had one who prognosticated, incorrectly,  about my staging and treatment. Unfortunately as some of us have found, they stick together and its very difficult to get even an apology. Not surprising, as an apology signals they were wrong and they will not admit that.
    Coupled with some of the downright dishonest business practices of some other specialists, and I'm referring to my personal experience with the local oncology services here, I really think some sort of inquiry is warranted. Medical specialists may save our lives but many are not at all altruistic and there doesn't seem to be any policing of ethical standards. 
  • Doin'itDoin'it Member Posts: 377
    After thinking this through, you don’t want to upset yourself or put too much energy into this @Kiwi Angel. Maybe it’s best to focus on all the wonderful folk who helped you & put him in the trash can to be deleted forever xx
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    @Doodoo I know someone else has an issue with his work but whether anyone else has complained I don’t know. Apparently they will keep it on file incase a similar complaint arises. 

    @Zoffiel I did think about the “old boys club” and them sticking together. There was an apology for causing me distress as he didn’t mean to but still saying he did the right thing basically!!

    Working in the veterinary industry I feel that we do better by the animals that what happens to us as humans. 
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    @Doodoo I was going to send my feedback and that will be it for me. At the very least he has been inconvenienced and there is a blemish on his record. xo
  • kezmusckezmusc Member Posts: 1,544
    Why he even thought he knew for sure without having the path results is beyond me.  That must be against some protocol surely.  Normally you have to prise information out of them. Have you put a complaint in at the hospital as well?

    You are right though.  You won't get an apology as that is an admission of guilt.  

    They just have no idea, nobody does unless they've been on this side of the fence, how much distress and anxiety even a few wrong words can cause, let alone what you were told.

    What a twat!

  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,242
    Yes, they are totally missing the whole point of your complaint - and appear to be dismissing it out of hand.  That is not good.

    O M G!   I am SO sorry this happened to you @Kiwi Angel - I can only imagine how you and your hubby felt on the day & following days until the pathology came back as clear ..... I know I would have been a blubbering mess as well!  All that unnecessary angst and tumultuous upset ..... and incredibly traumatic.

    That is a disgraceful way for any surgeon to act prior to receiving the actual pathology results - he was just guessing - and that is not right, nor is it professional.   To be honest, I actually think a 'name & shame' would be in quite order here (tho I know that will not happen as it contravene's BCNA policy) - but it would prevent other lovelies from going thru the same behaviour.   If he did it to you, @Kiwi Angel - he will have done it to others.  The Commission should contact his other patients.

    HOW DARE HE?   (Another reason to record all your  health professional's conversations on your phone, perhaps?)  Then there is absolutely no doubt as to what is said.

    Keep at it, mate!  Definitely CC your complaint to the Hospital he works from & even the state & federal Health Minister as unprofessional behaviour.  Sadly, it is very much a boys club - and if your oncologist can put her two bits in as well as to the confusing referral & the need for followup pathology readings, it will carry more weight. 

    Take care, my friend xx  Big hugs coming your way.  xxx
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    Thanks ladies @kezmusc @arpie hadn’t thought about contacting the hospital. Might be an option too. My current surgeon said she would never tell anyone something like that without pathology. He is one that should definitely stick to surgery and not speak to people. 
  • KarynJKarynJ SE QldMember Posts: 193
    @Kiwi Angel How absolutely f*cking awful!!! I am so sorry you had to go through that and now re-live it through the complaints process.  Is there also some kind of board for surgeons that you can also send a copy of your complaint to? There is the Royal Australian College of Surgeons - I'm not sure if they would also deal with this kind of issue?  There is also the Health Ombudsman in most States.  Good luck with it all but as @Doodoo said, look after your own health first.
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    @KarynJ thanks for that. He did list all his qualifications and what he was a member of in his response letter so I’ll have to look into that. 
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,334
    Ah, hoisted on his own vanity. Sweet justice :)
  • Kiwi AngelKiwi Angel Sydney, NSWMember Posts: 1,952
    @Zoffiel one large paragraph of his response was all about him!!
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,334
    It's ALL about him. Sheesh, do try to keep up :)
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