A patient died three weeks after being diagnosed with a rare cancer due to diagnosistic errors and delays, an investigation found.

The patient had been unwell for five months and had "multiple" admissions and appointments at Monklands Hospital in Airdrie.

An investigation by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) found that a biopsy was not ordered until five months after the patient presented with fluid on the lungs and other tests were also missed.

Guidelines indicate that a fluid aspiration (removal of a small amount of fluid for testing) should have been arranged to rule out infection in the cavity between the lungs and chest wall.

This was not arranged until almost eight weeks later. When this was done and the result was inconclusive, guidelines recommended that a biopsy be carried out and this wasn't done either.

The Herald:

In addition, an ultrasound scan the following day reported ascites (fluid within the abdomen), and again a fluid aspiration was indicated but wasn't carried out.

A biopsy was not carried out until a further 14 weeks later when the patient's cancer was diagnosed. They died three weeks later.

The SPSO said it was reasonable to rule out other, less serious medical complaints  but said other investigations should have been jointly carried out.

The report said:"We found that there were earlier indications for a thoracoscopy and missed opportunities to diagnose A's cancer from the time of their initial presentation.

"While we acknowledged that an earlier diagnosis was unlikely to have altered A's prognosis, we noted it would have enabled palliative care to commence and allowed the family time to prepare and make the most of the time they had left together.

"We upheld this complaint."

NHS Lanarkshire has been ordered to apologise to the patient's family and ensure staff adhere to relevant national guidelines on managing pleural disease and managing ascites. 

Judith Park, NHS Lanarkshire director of acute services, said:  “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family.

"We very much regret any instance where we have failed to provide the highest standards of care for our patients and offer our sincere apologies for any failings in the care of this patient.

“We have fully accepted the recommendations within the Ombudsman’s reports and the lessons learned will be shared to help avoid similar occurrences in future.”