Sorry is the hardest word

A surgeon has been asked to apologise to a patient after he operated on the wrong part of her spine and didn’t tell her as soon as the mistake was discovered.

Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill has found that the orthopedic surgeon breached the code of patient’s rights and recommended that he apologise to the patient within three weeks.

If I stuff up on a job, apologising is the first thing I do.  It would not require a disciplinary tribunal to order me to get on with it.   

The commissioner found that the surgeon “took appropriate clinical measures prior to surgery to identify the appropriate spinal level on which to operate”.

“However, it was clear from the relevant MRI scan that decompression of the L4/5 pathological level had not been performed,” he said.

“In the circumstances, including Ms A’s ongoing symptoms, Dr C is criticised for not seeking further advice from colleagues and/or the radiologist about the interpretation of the scan at that stage.

“Accordingly, Dr C did not provide services to Ms A with reasonable care and skill, and breached Right 4 (1) of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code).

“Dr C failed to advise Ms A that the MRI report indicated that it was possible that he had operated on the wrong level of her spine, and that he intended to use the steroid injections to seek clarification in this regard.

“This was information that a reasonable consumer in Ms A’s circumstances would need to receive to make an informed choice or give informed consent to the proposed further treatment. Accordingly, Dr C breached Right 6 (2) of the Code.”


And now he’s ordered to apologise.   Like that matters.  It’s never an apology when it’s done under duress, is it?


– NZ Herald


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