2 October 2019

Take 9: Why are GPs sued over breast lumps?

Cancer Clinical Women

GPs can be let down by radiology reports when diagnosing cancerous breast lumps and this may lead to medicolegal problems, experts say.

Professor John Boyages, a radiation oncologist and Professor of Breast Oncology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Macquarie University in Sydney, has been an expert witness to the court when GPs are sued by patients over misdiagnosed breast lumps.

“It can even happen to the best doctors because imaging is not ideal and patient behaviour can vary, and so on,” he said.

Professor Boyages said many GPs were caught out because they didn’t record the patient’s history or ask the patient about their family history.

“They may also not record in their notes how long a lump has been there, and whether it has changed. Unfortunately, that works against the GP,” he said.

Professor Boyages suggests GPs spend five minutes after a clinical consult revising the radiology report with a highlighter and making sure it matches their clinical assessment of the lump.

Watch the full video here: