Saturday 29 April 2017

Doctor in 'missed bowel cancer' case still on paid leave

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the consultant had given an undertaking not to do colonoscopies elsewhere and he was now engaged in a formal human resources process (Stock picture)
A spokeswoman for the hospital said the consultant had given an undertaking not to do colonoscopies elsewhere and he was now engaged in a formal human resources process (Stock picture)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A hospital consultant who carried out a diagnostic procedure on 13 patients whose bowel cancer was missed remains on paid leave two years after the case became public.

The patients - one of whom has died - had colonoscopies at Wexford General Hospital and were later found to have bowel cancer.

All had been referred under the free BowelScreen programme for people aged 60 to 69.

A HSE review said the cancers were probably missed, although this was disputed by the full-time consultant who conducted all tests and went on voluntary leave.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the consultant had given an undertaking not to do colonoscopies elsewhere and he was now engaged in a formal human resources process.

The incident had been referred to the Medical Council, she said.

Meanwhile, the daughter of one of the patients whose cancer was missed said yesterday he was told to "go home and drink Guinness" after he went to the emergency department of Wexford Hospital with worrying symptoms.

Dee Fitzpatrick, from Wexford, said her father Pat (72) had a colonoscopy in February 2013, and began to feel unwell two years later.

He was contacted and was asked to go for a repeat colonoscopy, which was paid for in St Vincent's Hospital.

It confirmed he had cancer of the bowel.

She said yesterday her father, who has undergone intensive treatment for the illness, has "fought one hell of a fight".

He has suffered four episodes of pneumonia, three cardiac arrests and now has cancer in his brain.

"He has been through a very difficult two years," she said.

The family continue to question what her father's state of health would be if the cancer was detected earlier.

A spokeswoman for BowelScreen said yesterday no other missed cancers had been reported in other hospitals used by the screening programme.

One other cancer was reported in a patient who was screened in the first round between 2012 and 2015.

This was investigated and found to be an "interval cancer", which can happen between screenings.

The case was reviewed by clinical experts and they deemed the doctor's practice met all required standards and there was no cause for concern.

She said a range of quality assurance measures were in place to minimise the risk of a mistake being made.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he would encourage people invited to take part in BowelScreen to avail of the offer, which could be lifesaving.

He described the cases of missed diagnosis as "sad and distressing" and his job was to ensure it was not repeated.

Irish Independent

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