Surgeon’s failure to read notes criticised in death case

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HEALTH chiefs have apologised to the family of a Hawick man who died following an operation after it emerged that the surgeon had not read his full medical notes.

A review of accessing medical records is under way after the publication of a report into an investigation of the death of Hugh Petrie.

Mr Petrie, 55, a joiner, had the operation on his bowel in March 2009 but died a few days later.

An investigation has found that the NHS Lothian consultant who carried out the procedure did not access his medical notes before surgery which meant he did not know of Mr Petrie’s previous operations.

He has been criticised by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Jim Martin, who investigated the case and has now published his findings.

In the report it emerged that NHS Borders – which referred Mr Petrie to Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital – did not send the full notes as it feared they might be lost.

Mr Petrie had had part of his bowel removed in 2005, and subsequently contracted numerous infections and associated problems.

His complications reached the stage where he was transferred to specialist care in Edinburgh in 2008.

A letter from his consultant in the Borders documented some of his medical history, but at no point did the Edinburgh consultant attempt to see the complete file.

Mr Petrie died of sepsis and pneumonia on March 24, 2009, and when the unnamed consultant was informed, the report said he looked “visibly shocked”.

Mr Martin said: “There were failings by the consultant in his actions relating to obtaining all of Mr Petrie’s relevant medical history.

“It is the responsibility of the operating surgeon to ensure they are familiar with all aspects of a patient’s clinical history, which may influence the decision to operate.”

A keen rugby player in his day for semi-junior teams in Hawick and also Jed-Forest, twice married Mr Petrie lived with partner Carol Tait for the final five years of his life.

David Farquharson, NHS Lothian’s medical director, said: “We are writing to Ms Tait to apologise for the distress caused following her partner’s surgery.

“We are in the process of reviewing our policy on accessing medical records.”