Tuesday 19 June 2018

Failure to respond to early concerns about doctor at centre of 13 missed cancer cases 'a missed opportunity'

A separate review last year revealed the 13 patients included a man who has now died of the illness, an investigation report has revealed.
A separate review last year revealed the 13 patients included a man who has now died of the illness, an investigation report has revealed.
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Concerns about the performance of a doctor carrying out invasive tests were raised long before a review found 13 patients, who had bowel cancer, were wrongly given the all clear, a report revealed today. This amounted to a “missed opportunity.”

A separate review last year revealed the 13 patients included a man who has now died of the illness, an investigation report has revealed.

All of the patients had undergone a colonoscopy - an invasive test of the bowel - at Wexford General Hospital.

They were participating in BowelScreen, the national bowel screening programme for people aged 60 to 69.

An external report published today on how the investigation was carried out revealed found a HSE member of staff first raised concerns about the doctor in March-April of 2013.

In September 2014, a patient who had undergone a screening colonoscopy at the hospital in April 2013 was found to have cancer.

BowelScreen was informed of the case in October 2014.

Another case emerged in late October 2014 and BowelScreen was also alerted.

But the first phase of a recall of patients did not begin until January  2015.Some 615 patients were eventually re-checked.

The external review said today there was no doubt the doctor was under-performing.

But it said the recall of patients was  done in  a timely and efficient manner.

And there were significant mitigating factors to the lack of response to concerns raised by the member of staff, said the  external reviewer Professor Robert JC Steele, Senior Research Professor in prevention, early detection and treatment of colorectal cancer at the University of Dundee.

In response to this finding, BowelScreen have implemented a new policy to manage safety incidents, in order to manage such incidents in a standardised and appropriate manner.

BowelScreen have also developed enhanced policies and procedures to strengthen early warning systems and to ensure that a proactive response is taken in all cases where concern is raised by staff.

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