Mother sues doctors and hospital over delayed cancer diagnosis

Mother sues doctors and hospital over delayed cancer diagnosis

Mother sues doctors and hospital over delayed cancer diagnosis

Updated 4 February 2018, 14:45 AEDT

Jodie Elisara says a doctor diagnosed her bowel cancer almost by accident, eight years after she was hit with painful symptoms.

Jodie Elisara first began suffering painful symptoms of bowel cancer in 2009, but another eight years would pass before doctors diagnosed the disease and began to treat it.

The young mother of three lodged a $1 million medical negligence claim in the Supreme Court in Brisbane against three doctors as well as the Redcliffe Hospital, north of Brisbane.

Ms Elisara, 36, said she noticed rectal bleeding, low iron levels and had extreme pain when passing stools, but her doctor told her it was haemorrhoids.

After multiple visits to three different GPs over the following years, the pain became unbearable.

"I went back to the doctors and said: 'You need to do something, even if it is haemorrhoids I want something done, I can't continue living like this'," she said.

Ms Elisara said she was eventually referred for a colonoscopy at the Redcliffe Hospital in May 2015 but waited months on a list before having surgery for haemorrhoids in January 2017.

"That's when he [the doctor] told me that I actually had no haemorrhoids at all but I had a very large tumour in my colon," she said.

She was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer.

"I was so shocked — for years I've been told these are haemorrhoids. I could have caught this at stage one, I could have caught this at stage two ... we should have caught it earlier."

Her lawyer Sarah Atkinson from Maurice Blackburn said they would be arguing the doctors and hospital were medically negligent for failing to refer Ms Elisara for a colonoscopy sooner, and for the time taken by the hospital in providing her with one.

"This case really stands out as an example of a young person really trying to do the right thing, but who has been terribly let down by the medical profession," Ms Atkinson said.

"If she had had that colonoscopy earlier, we are confident that it would have made a significant difference to her outcome."

In a statement, a Metro North Hospital and Health Service spokesperson said they would be defending the matter.

"While we can't comment further due to patient privacy and confidentiality reasons, we offer our ongoing support to the patient while they are undergoing treatment at Redcliffe Hospital," the spokesperson said.

"As the matter is before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment."

Bowel Cancer Australia chief executive officer Julien Wiggins said if found early, there was a high chance of effective treatment.

"Ninety per cent of bowel cancer cases can be successfully treated if it is detected early," he said.

"But that's the key — it needs to be detected early."

Ms Elisara no longer has cancer but is concerned about the risk of cancer recurring.

She said she is keen to raise awareness and encourage people to speak out if they notice symptoms and feel like the medical profession is not listening to them.