Study outlines struggle faced by patient in health system
Published Thursday, December 19, 2013 6:36PM MST
An investigation into the case of one cancer patient in 2012 has found the health care system failed the man repeatedly, before his death due to complications from surgery.
The study looked at what happened to Greg Price, 31, in the months leading up to his death.
It all started when Price went to his doctor for a routine checkup, the doctor noticed a thickening of a tube in his testicles, or epididmyis, but no follow up was planned.
About one month later, Price went to the same doctor, who referred him to a surgeon – but Price wasn’t contacted by the surgeon for three months. So, the patient headed to a walk-in clinic.
At the clinic, x rays and an ultrasound found a large mass in his abdomen and CT scan was ordered – it was performed weeks later.
However, Price never received a call with the results. Greg called the clinic to follow up, and was told his doctor had joined a new clinic.
The next day, a different doctor confirmed Price had testicular cancer, and he was referred to a urologist – but the urologist didn’t contact him, the patient contacted the urologist himself, and found via a recorded message that the urologist was away.
Price went to another urologist, and eventually underwent surgery – but days later, complications arose, and Price couldn’t reach the urologist.
The patient went to the ER, made an appointment and went home – three days later, he suffered a cardio-respiratory arrest and died.
Price’s father said he hopes his son’s story leads to changes.
“The goal really is for the family to have, for as many people to understand what the journey was and what those experiences were,” Dave Price said.
“The culture, overall, is not one that’s patient-centred, it’s not one that’s collaborative and not one to deliver continuous care.”
The report, which was also posted online, includes 13 recommendations – including calling for more investment into the electronic health system.
It’s an idea Health Minister Fred Horne is open to, but he said the onus is still on doctors to communicate with each other.
“I’m certainly prepared to look at how we can enhance the electronic record keeping system to make the communication flow easier,” Horne said.
“Communicating with one another is a personal and professional responsibility on the part of the health care professional.”
The Alberta Medical Association admitted doctors make errors, but said doctors need good support systems, the President of the AMA said an improved electronic reminder system would help.
With files from Dan Grummett