GPs alarmed after 'system glitch' sees test results over a decade old sent out by hospital
Patient test results 20 years out of date have been sent to GPs by a major hospital, the Irish Independent has learned.
Some doctors were alarmed at the contents of the results which were issued by Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and related to previous diagnostic tests, before it became apparent they were up to two decades old.
In one case, a GP was so worried they were about to phone their patient to urgently come into the surgery for more tests when they saw the date.
The results, sent out earlier this month, were 12 years old in that case. Other blood tests given to the GP were 15 years old.
The doctor warned the serious error could have "catastrophic consequences, both psychological and physical for the patients".
A spokeswoman for the hospital confirmed the IT glitch led to historic test results being "unintentionally re-issued" to GPs who had originally requested them.
She said Beaumont Hospital was currently in the process of upgrading its IT system, with the intention of having the National Medical Laboratory Information System in place next year.
"An IT glitch which occurred on the hospital's legacy computer system recently led to a number of historic test results being unintentionally re-issued to the GPs who had originally requested them," she said.
"All communications contained correct information regarding historic test results and the dates on which the tests were conducted."
The spokeswoman said that "within 24 hours of this glitch, the hospital rectified the problem" and contacted every GP practice involved. "No patients were affected," she said.
GPs in the area now use an online system called Health Links which provides a web-based messaging service, allowing the secure transmission of clinical patient information between hospitals, health care agencies and GPs.
It transfers a range of clinical information from the hospitals to GPs which include lab results, radiology reports, outpatient appointments and waiting list updates.
It should be more reliable than paper-based communication.