Doctors miss fist-sized brain tumour

A Swedish woman has reported four physicians to a national body that assesses medical negligence after they missed a brain tumour the size of a fist.

One after the other, four physicians in southern Sweden made the same diagnosis: the constant headaches their 27-year-old female patient had been experiencing were due to tension. She was prescribed painkillers to treat the headaches.

Six months later, the original doctor discovered the cause of the pain – a fist-sized tumour in the patient’s frontal lobe. The woman then reported the doctors to the Medical Responsibility Board (Hälso- och sjukvårdens ansvarsnämnd – HSAN), a national authority that assesses medical negligence in Sweden. One of the physicians has received a reprimand.

The doctor in question, who is from Småland, was the last in a long line of those who examined the woman for her severe pain.

According to HSAN, the physician did not sufficiently follow up the woman’s medical history, which would have revealed that the nature of the headaches had changed. In turn, that would have led to an earlier discovery of the tumour.

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