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Blundering Doctor Destroys Breast X-ray

A patient's breast X-ray was deliberately destroyed by a doctor who mistakenly gave her the all clear after reading her x-ray according //to a disciplinary panel.

The doctor, consultant surgeon John Philip was working in a private clinic in Sheffield when the woman, a mother-of-two came to him.

The woman she was healthy after routine checks in 1994 and 1996 despite being not qualified to read her X-rays, the General Medical Council (GMC) hearing was told.

Months later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died two years later, aged 39, after the cancer spread.

Mr Philip was clinical director of the NHS Pennine Breast Screening Service in Bradford during that time.

The patient, known as Mrs A had left a statement which was read at the hearing in Manchester.

She said: "He said that he had noticed a shelf at the top of my breast. He said that it was the same as it had been then (in 1994) and there was nothing to worry about. He led me to believe that I did not have any problem."

Later, Mrs A felt a pain in her right breast, but thought she had pulled a muscle.

Mrs A's husband was statement was also read to hearing in which he said that he thought she was "in the hands of an expert".

Doctors later found three tumors in her right breast and one under her arm. Her breast was removed following chemotherapy.

Despite the operation, the cancer later spread to her back and ribs, and despite radiotherapy she lost the use of her legs. Mrs A died in May 1998.

However when Mrs A's family began preparing a case for damages they were told the films and the prints had been destroyed.

The lawyers say that the GMC states that the failure to keep that record was not in accordance with NHS standards. Such records were usually kept for a period of eight years.

They added" Their destruction meant they were not available for subsequent comparison with the later X-rays that were taken in May 1996."

According to David Jackson, former chief executive at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which ran the breast screening unit, Mr Philip had a mostly "administrative role" and was not trained to read mammograms.

He said, "Clearly they had to be read by somebody who was appropriately trained and qualified and my understanding was that Mr Philip did not have that appropriate training."

However Oliver Follows, a consultant radiologist at the trust, said Mr Philip was "conservative" with his diagnoses.

When asked by Gordon Bebb, QC, for Dr Philip: "Was he as good as anybody at reviewing the x-rays?"

He replied, "I would have said so, yes."

He said that he would not expect the scan to have been sent to the hospital after the cancer was found, only the doctor's written report, and that the NHS would only keep copies of the scan for three years.

According to Follows the doctor was not the kind of person to destroy the film to "cover his tracks" and was "scrupulously careful with every patient".

Mr Philip denies deliberately destroying the X-ray and that his conduct was irresponsible, unprofessional and not in the best interests of the patient.

The case resumes today.


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