Agonising wait for patients as X-ray probe is extended
Patients face another anxious wait as doctors whose X-rays are being investigated for mistakes may have worked in other hospitals which have yet to be confirmed, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said.
Thousands of X-rays and scans read by three temporary radiologists have had to be reviewed, with one patient in Bantry Hospital suffering a delayed diagnosis of cancer.
The HSE said the reviews of the consultants were ordered after concerns were expressed by other radiologists and GPs. Health service bosses declined to say what these concerns involved and if another serious misdiagnosis occurred.
Mr Varadkar told the Dáil: "I don't know the exact number of hospitals in which all of these doctors worked. That is being figured out at the moment."
All of the cases by the consultant involved in the delayed cancer diagnosis have been traced - but a review involving the other two doctors, is still under way, he added.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said last night "a process of reassurance" is ongoing and an audit of X-rays in Cavan and Monaghan Hospitals is near completion to find out if patients needed to be recalled for checks.
The highest number of X-ray reviews were carried out on patients treated by the doctors in Bantry General, Kerry General and Cavan Monaghan Hospital during 2013.
All three of the doctors worked in these hospitals.
One of the doctors, who were employed on a temporary basis to fill in for the absence of permanent staff, also worked in Connolly Hospital in Dublin, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, Wexford General and Roscommon Hospital.
Bantry Hospital recalled 50 patients after reviewing 4,388 scans and x-rays. One patient who was found to have cancer is in treatment for the disease.
Kerry General recalled six patients and no mistakes were found. Wexford and Roscommon Hospitals said there was no need for recall. So far 62 patients from Cavan and Monaghan have been recalled.
Mr Varadkar came under fire in the Dáil from Fine Gael TD Fergus O Dowd and Independent Roscommon TD Denis Naughton, who said: "After the issue of delayed diagnosis in Tallaght a number of years ago, the HSE assured us that new procedures were in place to ensure X-ray readings were not delayed or misread."
The over-reliance on temporary doctors, because of the failure to recruit permanent specialists here, has been highlighted.
Mr Varadkar said the mistake rate found so far was not high.
The latest scare to hit hospitals came as a new survey of junior doctors shows that patient safety and welfare is at risk from trainee medics whose mental health is affected by long hours and bullying.
The survey by the Medical Council found the mental health and wellbeing of two in 10 of the junior doctors was poor or very poor.
Trainees who reported working over 60 hours a week also reported poorer general health, quality of life, and mental health and wellbeing.
Medical Council President Freddie Wood said these issues need to be addressed in the interests of patients and doctors.