Wednesday 16 January 2019

GPs warned about quality of reports by locum radiologist

University Hospital Kerry. Picture: Domnick Walsh
University Hospital Kerry. Picture: Domnick Walsh
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

GPs were informally warned about the quality of some of the reports by a consultant radiologist whose 46,000 patient scans are currently under review at University Hospital Kerry.

The GPs were told by senior clinical staff to say if any discrepancies were found in the reports on patients which they received after undergoing scans at the hospital.

They were contacted earlier this year, although it was not until July that the first patient who was at the centre of a serious misdiagnosis came to light.

After a second patient was also found to be mistakenly given the all-clear by the consultant in August, it was decided to launch a review.

It is unclear what form of monitoring or checks were done on the consultant in the first half of this year to reduce risk.

The doctor was doing twice the normal number of scans.

The hospital yesterday denied any formal instruction to the GPs about the work of the locum consultant.

Over 21,000 scans have now been reviewed and seven patients are known to have suffered a delayed diagnosis, including three people who were told they had cancer.

HSE chief Tony O'Brien said yesterday he was now hopeful that the remaining scans could be reviewed by external radiologists by early January.

He said the decision to launch a full look-back at all the consultant's scans from March 2016 to July 2017 was "appropriate".

It was based on clinical judgment and the decision not to make it public was the correct one to avoid alarming tens of thousands of patients when only a minority could potentially be affected.

Mr O'Brien said he was informed of the review in October.

Asked if 46,000 scans by one consultant in that timescale is unusual, the HSE's head of acute hospitals said it had internal data on this through its electronic scanning system.

A spokesman for the hospital said yesterday that consultants were doing reports after normal office hours in order to manage high volume and backlogs.

The hospital did not provide figures for the current waiting list.

It said the current outpatient waiting time for a routine X-ray is five weeks, and is two days for an urgent patient. A patient needing a routine CT scan faces a 12-week wait. An urgent case can be done in two weeks.

The hospital's serious incident management team is now meeting on a weekly basis and a report is to be made available after this.

Updated figures on the numbers of scans read and patients recalled are expected today.

Mr O'Brien said yesterday the hospital's clinical manager is in charge of the radiology unit. Line management involves the hospital's general manager.

Irish Independent

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