Monday 16 September 2019

CervicalCheck gave 'computer glitch' lab all-clear as 800 women waited for results

Review call: Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Tom Burke
Review call: Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Tom Burke

Eilish O'Regan and Hugh O'Connell

CervicalCheck gave the all-clear in April to the US laboratory at the centre of the computer glitch - at a time when hundreds of women were left in the dark about their test results, it was confirmed yesterday.

An inspection team from the screening service travelled to the Quest-run lab in Chantilly in Virginia as part of the preparation to outsource the 80,000 backlog of tests which had built up.

However, although it became aware of the computer glitch in February, CervicalCheck went on to give the lab the green light in April as part of the additional centres hired to clear the backlog.

It was only through the perseverance of one of the women that the latest crisis came to light last week.

The revelation raises new concerns about CervicalCheck's surveillance systems at a time when over 800 women, whose tests were sent to the laboratory since the previous October, were left waiting for their results.

The HSE yesterday was unable to say how many more of the 52 women who tested positive for the HPV virus have been sent for further investigations. The vast majority of them will need further examinations.

It emerged earlier this week that at least half the women so far have had to undergo further medical tests.

It could not say how many women outside of the 800 group have been affected by the delay in getting results from the lab.

It said that it involves a small number and that it is following up with Quest.

Meanwhile, the Irish Patients' Association and Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Stephen Donnelly said that the HSE-commissioned review of the incident needs to go further.

There should be a quick, independent inquiry to run in parallel with the HSE's current review to take in the Department of Health in the handling of the matter, they added.

Irish Independent

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