GP Randall Friesen sued over Bendigo man's stroke

A doctor is being sued for not referring a man with high blood pressure to hospital.  Photo: Virginia Star

A doctor is being sued for not referring a man with high blood pressure to hospital. Photo: Virginia Star

A Bendigo man is suing his GP for failing to refer him to hospital while he claims he was suffering a stroke.

Anthony Gane, a 55-year-old carpet installer, went to his GP, Randall Friesen, on August 6, 2010, suffering from dizziness, a headache and blurred vision.

At the time, he allegedly had a history of other high blood pressure readings; high cholesterol readings; smoking, and drinking about 10 glasses of light beer a day.

Despite recording an abnormally high blood pressure reading of 190/110 on August 6, Dr Friesen instructed Mr Gane to monitor his blood pressure at home and return to the clinic for him to review the results in a week.

Four days later, Mr Gane collapsed and was rushed to hospital. He was having a stroke, which caused some loss of vision, weakness in his left hand, spasticity in his right arm and hand, memory loss, facial droop and other impaired function.

In a writ lodged in the Supreme Court of Victoria, his lawyers from Maurice Blackburn allege Dr Friesen should have immediately sent Mr Gane to Bendigo Hospital when he saw him on August 6 because he was suffering from an evolving stroke.

"(Dr) Friesen owed him a duty to take all reasonable care in the management, diagnosis and treatment of his condition," the statement of claim says.

It is also alleged that the doctor should have taken further steps in the years preceding 2014 to closely monitor Mr Gane's blood pressure and blood test results and to refer him to a cardiologist for further advice and treatment.

But in a defence filed at the court, Dr Friesen denied being negligent and said he acted "in a manner that was widely accepted in Australia by a significant number of respected practitioners".

Furthermore, Dr Friesen's lawyers say Mr Gane has not suffered a significant injury under Victorian law.

Dr Friesen also disputed the number of consultations he had had with Mr Gane and said Mr Gane had repeatedly failed to attend follow-up appointments, did not go to a dietician he was referred to, and did not return to him for more help between his consultation on August 6 and his collapse four days later.

Mr Gane says he has been unable to return to work since the stroke. He is seeking compensation for his pain and suffering, medical expenses and loss of earnings.

"I feel let down by the doctor, as I believe my stroke would have been avoided with early treatment," he said.

Samuel Pearce, from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said doctors should be following guidelines to assess a patient's cardiovascular risk and to determine appropriate management.

"From a patient safety perspective, we believe it is important that doctors continue to follow these guidelines when treating patients at risk of cardiovascular disease and, where appropriate, refer the patient to a specialist or to hospital for further management," he said.

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