A Kapiti natural health practitioner acted unethically while treating a patient with a cancerous lesion on her head.
Te Horo iridologist and natural health practitioner Ruth Nelson faces Human Rights Review Tribunal action after an investigation by the Health & Disability Commissioner (HDC).
Nelson treated Yvonne Maine, of Feilding, for 18 months for a lesion on her head and though she recognised the lesion "looked cancerous", she did not refer her to a doctor.
By the time Maine sought hospital treatment, the lesion was 10cm by 11cm and some underlying bones were damaged.
Maine was diagnosed with cancer and underwent major surgery but died a year later.
When Maine consulted Nelson about the lesion in February 2008, Maine thought it was a cyst.
Nelson had recognised from the beginning that the lesion "looked cancerous" and that it was beyond her ability to treat, the HDC said.
Despite that, Nelson treated the lesion for 18 months.
Nelson spent many hours each day at Maine's house, and the two went on holiday together.
Treatment of the lesion included picking out dead skin, cleaning the lesion, and the use of topical and oral remedies.
Although initially the lesion appeared to improve, it later grew larger, was frequently infected, bled frequently, and smelled unpleasant. Maine became weak and was in severe pain, the report said.
Nelson did not retain any records of the care she provided and no other health practitioner treated the woman's lesion during that time.
The report also said Maine acted unethically by crossing professional boundaries in her close relationship with the woman.
Nelson was found to have breached rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights.
She was referred to the director of proceedings who issued a Human Rights Review Tribunal proceeding.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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