Patient demands DHB apology after cancer scare

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2012
ric Scotson is waiting for a formal apology after he was misdiagnosed as having liver cancer
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ
STILL WAITING: Former United States Marine Eric Scotson is waiting for a formal apology after he was misdiagnosed as having liver cancer.

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A Hamilton man who was told he had cancer and given just weeks to live is seeking a formal apology after finding out he was misdiagnosed.

Eric Scotson - a former US Marine - began setting his affairs in order and spent an emotional time with his family who rushed from the United States after he was told in March that he was terminally ill.

"I was told I had weeks, maybe a few months at best, but as it turns out I'm not doing too badly at all," said the 84-year-old speaking at his home.

The former radiographer was told by a Waikato Hospital surgeon that he needed urgent surgery to remove a tumour from his liver following a routine colonoscopy and CT scan.

"He said I had cancer of the liver and I needed an urgent operation. "I asked if there were any other options and he said ‘palliative care'," said Mr Scotson.

"I chose palliative care, I felt my chances of surviving the surgery were grave and that I needed those few months to get my affairs in order - to say goodbye to my children."

Mr Scotson went home - expecting to die.

Two children arrived from the US at a cost of more than $5000 each, while his wife Angela could not eat, was stressed and upset.

"It was a terrible time for all of us, we were very stressed," she said.

Wanting to get to the bottom of Mr Scotson's diagnosis, his GP ordered more tests.

Follow-up lab tests were done and Mr Scotson was shocked when the results came back showing he did not have cancer.

The Waikato Times first met Mr Scotson just after his cancer diagnosis.

Wanting to share his story about life as a US Marine before he died, a friend of Mr Scotson approached The Times with the idea of running his story as part of our extensive Anzac Day coverage in April.

But Mr Scotson says his relief at having being cleared of cancer has turned to anger that his family had been subjected to a "great deal" of financial and emotional stress.

He has since lodged a formal complaint with the DHB, which communications manager Mary Anne Gill confirmed the DHB had received.

"We investigated the first one and responded. We've sought clarity around the second," she said.

In a letter sent to Mr Scotson's home in October, the surgeon apologised "for any stress that I have caused you".

"Obviously there has been a breakdown in communication and I have arranged an outpatient appointment to go through these issues with you," the surgeon wrote.

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But Mr Scotson chose not to keep the "arranged appointment" and said he wanted a formal apology from "higher up the chain".

"But I haven't heard anything of that nature yet, I'm still waiting."

- Waikato Times

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