Jon Short wants his erroneous diagnosis of melanoma to make second opinions mandatory and that the ACC is held accountable for how long it may take to decide on a client's fate.
A man involved in a nearly two-year battle with ACC after a misdiagnosis of melanoma wants the system to change.
By 2017, Jon Short had a mole removed from the nape of his neck. Two weeks later, he was told that he had malignant nodular melanoma – the most aggressive form of skin cancer.
Within weeks, the 48-year-old Tauranga man was at an operating table. Then came a phone call from his doctor – it was not cancer.
Her misdiagnosis and "unnecessary" surgery began a 21-month battle with ACC, and now Short wants the agency to be held accountable for its deadlines for client decisions and treatment.
CONSULT MORE INFORMATION:
* Melanoma rates in New Zealand are no longer worse in the world
* The damage caused by skin cancer
* Skin cancer survivor calls for nodule and swelling monitoring
Short's initial test showed an extraordinarily slow rate of cancer cell growth, so he asked for a second opinion – but that did not happen.
The surgery went on, with the surgeons cutting a deep incision that ran from ear to neck to collarbone.
Three days later, Short was informed that he had no cancer but a BAPoma – a rare and benign lesion.
The autonomic consultant got a big scar, nerve pain and constant discomfort.
In June 2017, Short filed a complaint of injury in the treatment with ACC.
After reviewing his medical records and seeking external clinical advice, the ACC decided that the treatment of Short was "reasonable" given the diagnosis. He declined his claim in June 2018.
In August, he appealed and won. It took until December 2018 for ACC to begin paying duties, including a fixed amount of lost rent, and a fuel refund for travel for appointments.
Short said the lawsuit was "complicated" and "infuriating."
He said ACC's claims processes are "deliberately slow and obstructive" and need to be "massively improved." He wanted the government to establish a way of holding ACC accountable for its decision-making deadlines.
Short also complained to the Health and Disability Committee.
He believes that if he were given the second opinion he asked for before the surgery, "I would not have gone through hell."
If someone asks for a second opinion, do so. If there are any problems or inconsistencies with your histology, do so.
He acknowledged that it "did not help" by handling some aspects of what he called a "time-consuming process."
"We also took time to respond when he contacted us on a number of occasions. We apologize for increasing your stress."
The ACC said that this is a "very complex claim" requiring information from several medical providers.
He also had to send reminders before getting the information, the ACC said in a statement.
ACC said it "has identified that we might have handled things better in some places, and [will use] these lessons to try to minimize future delays and improve our customer service. "