A doctor who didn't tell a patient of a positive test for a bone marrow cancer indicator failed to live up to medical standards, a tribunal has found.
The doctor, who has since retired, failed to tell his patient of the results after filing it in the wrong inbox on his computer without an attached reminder.
In doing so the doctor, who was registered with the Medical Council for 45 years, breached his code of practice by failing to exercise appropriate care, the Health and Disability Commissioner said.
After taking a blood test, the patient was advised to take follow-up tests, including a Bence Jones Protein test, which can indicate multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.
The test result was abnormal, but the doctor inadvertently put the file in the wrong inbox, the commissioner's report said.
"As a consequence of these actions, Dr B stated that his attention was diverted and he did not inform Mr A of the results at that time, or refer him to a specialist," the report said.
The patient subsequently developed severe back pain on an overseas trip which required hospitalisation.
"Doctors owe patients a duty of care in handling patient test results, including advising patients of, and following up on, abnormal results," the report said.
It said the failure to tell the patient "was a severe departure from expected practice".
No punitive action was taken but the doctor was advised to ensure he used appropriate reminders on abnormal results in future if he ever practises again.
The names of the doctor, who has apologised for his actions, and the patient have been suppressed.