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A DOCTOR failed to spot a woman’s cervical cancer EIGHT TIMES and dismissed her symptoms as “nothing serious”, a GMC hearing heard today.
Tragic Nikki Sams, 26, died after the cancer spread into her lungs, spine and neck despite repeated complaints to her doctor of irregular bleeding and abdominal pain.Dr Navin Shankar, 59, ignored her request for hospital checks and never performed an internal examination at his surgery in Luton, Beds.The blunder only emerged when Nikki was transferred to another GP practice after Dr Shankar was suspended for a separate case of serious misconduct involving a nine-day-old baby.
Her new doctor immediately recommended a smear test which revealed abnormal cells, and further examinations at Luton and Dunstable hospital found a tumour on her cervix.She had a hysterectomy the following week and began radiotherapy, chemotherapy treatment but died a year later.The General Medical Council (GMC) upheld a number of complaints against Dr Shankar relating to misconduct in Nikki’s case at a hearing last week.Devastated father Michael Sams, 54, who gave up his job at Luton airport to care for his daughter, said a “catalogue of unforgivable errors” cost Nikki her life.He said: “Nikki was so brave, she never complained or said ‘Why me?’ but she died unnecessarily.“It is unbelievable that in this day and age a girl can go to her doctor so many times complaining about all these symptoms and be sent away and told not to worry.”Michael told how Nikki went through “the worst pain of her life” as she underwent treatment at the Mount Vernon Hospital Cancer Centre in Northwood, Middlesex.After six months she was given the all-clear and returned to work but during hospital treatment following a car accident it was discovered that her cancer had returned.A series of x-rays showed the disease had spread into her spine, neck and lungs and Nikki was given six months to two years to live.She died at home a month after being diagnosed with secondary cancer in August 2007.Dr Navin Shankar had treated the advertising saleswoman from Luton, Beds., between 1999 and 2005 at the Wigmore Lane Health Centre.He appeared before the General Medical Council (GMC) last week to assess his fitness to practice and determine whether sanctions should be taken against him.
The case has been adjourned for a performance assessment to be carried out but the GMC has already “proven” a number of the complaints against the doctor.The GMC found she had made direct requests to Dr Shankar and a number of other unrecorded complaints about inter-menstrual bleeding in the same period.But he failed to keep adequate records of her symptoms.Nikki even made a request for referral to Luton & Dunstable Hospital, but at no stage did Dr Shankar perform an abdominal or internal examination or send her to hospital.Mr Sams added: “The hysterectomy was such a blow for Nikki because she was so young and desperately wanted a family, but that was just the start of the nightmare.“I never told her she was terminal because I didn’t want to give up hope or frighten her – but it was a terrible burden to carry. I spent most of my time away from her in tears.“I brought up Nikki as a single parent and we were so close, we were more like friends than father and daughter.
In September 2005 the GMC found Dr Shankar guilty of serious professional misconduct after he dismissed the case of a baby with a blocked artery and then forged his notes on the examination.Nine-day-old Daniel Miller, whose leg had turned dark blue, had a life threatening blood clot and his toes were becoming gangrenous, but Dr Shankar had said his nappy was too tight.He was suspended for six months, and after a failed appeal in March 2007 received a further nine month ban.However, in January 2008 the GMC allowed him to return to unrestricted practice.The GMC panel ruled that cancer victim Nikki Sams had complained to GP Dr Navin Shankar eight times before she was diagnosed with cancer.Dr Shankar received repeated complaints of inter-menstrual bleeding, post-coital bleeding and abdominal and back pain between 30 November 1999 and 12 July 2004.But he did not refer Nikki to hospital for further investigation despite her asking for this, or perform an abdominal or internal examination himself.Dr Shankar, who qualified from Patna Medical College in India in 1971, has practised in Luton, Beds., for over 30 years.His case had been adjourned while a performance assessment is be carried out to determine his fitness to practise.The hearing will reconvene at a date to be fixed to determine whether sanctions should be taken against him.
If his fitness to practise is deemed to be impaired, Dr Shankar could receive a warning, have conditions placed on his registration, be suspended or struck off.
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