The Health and Disability Commissioner has recommended that a doctor receive further communication training after failing to establish a patient’s identity.

The Doctor called for a patient in the waiting room and a woman followed her into the examination room. During the examination, the doctor did not confirm the patient’s name, date of birth, or obtain an accurate medical history.

Additionally, the doctor did not question the woman when she gave contradictory answers to statements made in relation to another patient. The doctor arranged for the woman to be injected with antibiotics by the clinic’s nurse, a treatment meant for a different patient.

After the woman left, the nurse and doctor became aware of the mix-up and asked the woman to come back to the clinic to be followed up.

The Commissioner was critical of the doctor’s action and noted, despite there being no serious harm in this case, there was a serious potential. There was also concern that the doctor did not record notes of any kind in relation to the incident.

The Commissioner held that that the doctor breached the woman’s rights under the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights by failing to provide services with reasonable care and skill.

In addition to further training, the doctor was required to provide an apology to the woman.

It is important for any person working in the health industry to ensure that they get the basics right, particularly their patient’s identity. Failure to do so may result in serious harm to the patient, lengthy investigations, and potentially serious consequences.

If there are concerns around the conduct of a healthcare worker you have been treated by, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-priced Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.


Alan Knowsley
Medical Lawyer