Doctor who misread smear tests dies

Last updated 15:24 08/07/2014

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The retired Gisborne doctor whose negligent reading of cervical smear slides left women with invasive cancer has died.

Michael Bottrill died on July 5 at the age of 85.

Bottrill misread hundreds of the 12,500 cervical smear slides taken at his Gisborne Laboratories business between 1990 and 1996, interpreting high-grade abnormalities as normal.

Patient A was the first woman to take a case against the Gisborne pathologist, and underwent a hysterectomy, radiation and other treatment for her invasive cancer.

Her case sparked a four month cervical cancer inquiry in Gisborne.

The ministerial inquiry into the misread results heard evidence Bottrill took trays of cervical smears home with him to screen while he waited for his wife to cook dinner.

Dozens of women developed cervical cancer and some died after Bottrill's under-reporting of the smear results.

The Government offered compensation to 44 women whose smears were misread, in amounts ranging from $5000 to $40,000.

The largest sums were paid to those who had undergone radical treatment for invasive cancer and to the families of those who died.

In the 1999 trial that brought the matter to national attention, it was claimed Bottrill earned around $300,000 a year from the laboratory in the 1990s.

Bottrill began reading cervical smears in 1967, and set up Gisborne Laboratories shortly after.

Bottrill's wife Margaret died in 1984 and he is survived by four of his five adult sons.

His funeral will be held on Thursday in Gisborne.

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- The Dominion Post

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