A doctor has been found guilty of repeatedly making up the test results of a patient who was later diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome, which can result in permanent disability.
Health and Disability Commissioner Anthony Hill said the doctor's behaviour was unacceptable and called for a competence review.
The patient arrived at hospital and was reviewed by the orthopaedic registrar, who carried out a bladder void scan to check for the syndrom. When the results came back borderline, he called the orthopaedic consultant to ask what to do next.
The registrar was then told to perform another scan, but misunderstood the instructions, and did not do it.
When he was then asked for the results for the second test by the consultant, instead of admitting he had not carried it out, he made up normal results. This lie was then repeated to the consultant at a meeting the next morning.
Two weeks later, the patient was diagnosed with cauda equina syndrome and required urgent surgery.
In his judgement, Commissioner Hill said he understood there was a "power dynamic between senior and junior doctors, and cannot diminish the real and tangible effect this can have.
"Nevertheless, in my view, [the doctor] allowed his own needs and the pressure he felt to take precedence over [the patient's] well-being.
"[The doctor] actively chose to lie to his superior, and the effect of that lie was disastrous for his patient. His behaviour was unacceptable."
In his recommendations, Hill said the registrar should apologise to the man, and provide the HDC with his reflections and learnings from relevant training.