A hard lesson in soft tissue sarcoma
A GP defended at trial by Richard Manstoff of the Clyde's Healthcare team was this month found not to have breached any duty of care owed to a patient who presented with a swelling of between 7-10cm behind his knee, thought to be cystic in feel and appearance and diagnosed as a 'Baker's cyst'.
Sadly, as it in fact transpired, the swelling was a myxoid liposarcoma, a very rare soft tissue sarcoma which the Court accepted has a 'soft and squishy' feel and would thus have mimicked the very much more common Baker's cyst.
The swelling appeared in exactly the right place i.e. behind the knee and would likely have felt similar enough for a Baker's cyst to make such a diagnosis not one that was unreasonable.
Whilst the delay in diagnosis that followed as a result was one which made no material difference to the Deceased's life expectancy, it was a tragic set of circumstances on any analysis.
Whilst all must have real sympathy for patients and their families in such circumstances, such matters are always clear with the benefit of hindsight. However the Court must view matters as they would have appeared at the relevant time, and did so in this case. The alternative view would result in massive over referral of patients by GPs and would, in turn, overwhelm the system.
Being wrong is always unfortunate. But hindsight does not make wrong, negligent.