The medical watchdog decided against disciplining Dr Michael Slancar, above.
The medical watchdog decided against disciplining Dr Michael Slancar, above.

Patient sues after tube left near heart for weeks

THE medical watchdog has decided against disciplining a Gold Coast doctor after a plastic tube broke off a medical device implanted in his patient.

The tube was lodged near the patient's pulmonary artery for "several weeks".

Dr Michael Slancar.
Dr Michael Slancar.

Hospital patient Terry Mark Graham, 52, of Hollywell, on the Gold Coast, complained to the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) about his doctor, Michael Slancar, the District Court in Brisbane heard.

Details of the complaint, which was referred to the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, were revealed after Mr Graham was given the green light to sue Dr Slancar for negligence over the incident, which occurred at the Icon Cancer Clinic at Southport between 2015 and 2016.

Mr Graham's lawyers told the court that the OHO "decided to take no action against Dr Slancar" on November 8, 2017.

Documents filed in the District Court claim that doctors found tubing from a port-a-cath had "broken off" and lodged inside him when they did a CT scan of his chest on March 3, 2016.

Mr Graham told his doctors he felt as though someone was "standing on his chest" in March 2016, after the tubing lodged near the main artery connecting his heart and lungs.

The port-a-cath had been inserted in his body three years earlier as part of chemotherapy treatment for Mr Graham's bowel and liver cancer.

As a result of the snapped port-a-cath, Mr Graham claims he had excess fluid between the heart and the sac surrounding the heart. He claims he continues to have shortness of breath, chest pain and discomfort when breathing.

Mr Graham claims Dr Slancar and the nurses at the Icon Cancer Centre had a duty of care to ensure his port-a-cath was whole and functioning. However, four times between August and December 2015 the catheter would not flush.

"On no less than four occasions, the nursing staff had difficulties flushing the port-a-cath, which should have been considered a surgical emergency," the notice of claim states.

Medical expert David Gorman told the court that the difficulties flushing the port-a-cath "should have been a warning that there was a problem" and action should have been taken.

It was the nurse's responsibility to tell Dr Slancar that it was not flushing, Dr Gorman told the court.

"I do not believe that it is competent practice to allow a port-a-cath to remain in place over a four-month period while it is not able to be flushed," Dr Gorman stated in his report filed in court.

No documents in defence of the suit have been filed.