The advancement of science and spotting cancer
The science is always advancing following which a lot of things need to adopt accordingly, including how the current laws adapt.
It is always positive when the science progresses in order to help patients. In this case we are referring to edible capsules with a camera inside that might help to diagnose patients with cancer and/or any other illness such as Crohn’s disease.
This is not a new invention per se, however, the new plan is to make it more accessible to patients under NHS in order to ensure that more people can be safely tested for cancer.
In December 2020, almost 105,000 people were on the NHS waiting list in England for an endoscopy procedure, more than half of whom had been waiting at least six weeks. This does not meet the proposed target which is that patients should receive their tests within two weeks, and less than 1% of patients should wait six week or more from referral to diagnostic test.
The pandemic has not helped to ensure that patients are seen in timely manner. In addition, infection control measures, even more important now than ever, need to make the endoscopies safe during the pandemic, which means that they take longer and fewer can be carried out throughout the day.
Furthermore, various types of endoscopies can be quite unpleasant procedures, that also carry a few risks and require a patient to have at least some form of anaesthesia.
This new innovation, i.e. the swallowing of a capsule, might result in patients having the testing at home, or at least speeding less time at the hospital, as well as getting their results within a few hours.
The plan is to get 11,000 patients in more than 40 areas in England to receive the capsules cameras. If this proves to be affective, we might see a further raise in numbers of people receiving capsule cameras instead of the usual endoscopies. This could become the norm in diagnosing cancer early and allowing quicker and more effective treatment.
However, despite of it being a less invasive procedure, the proper standards of care still need to be followed in terms of information provided and consent. Each patient should be advised of the risks of the procedure and the process itself. If there are any issues that develop as a result, this should not be dismissed.
The symptoms of cancer and medical negligence
The risks can be such as one developing symptoms of tummy pain, vomiting or generally feeling unwell. Following that, you need to let your doctor know and seek medical help.
In very rare circumstances, the capsule might get stuck inside your body. Therefore, if the capsule has not been passed, or there is a suspicion that part of it might be left in situ, this needs to be communicated to your doctor and test such as radiology imaging need to take place to confirm diagnosis.
A failure to address the issue and perform tests to exclude a possibility of the capsule being stuck inside might result in a breach of duty on behalf of your doctor. In addition, if you feel that the test results were misinterpreted and e.g. cancer not picked up from the imaging taken, there might be a possibility of a breach of duty here too.
The same standards apply when going ahead with the usual endoscopy, before, during and after which the patient needs to receive a proper standard of care.