Saturday 21 April 2018

Hospital wrongly gave 13 patients the all-clear for cancer

One of the patients died of bowel cancer and others are being treated for the disease

Wexford General Hospital
Wexford General Hospital

Eilish O’Regan

Thirteen patients who were wrongly given the all-clear for bowel cancer were found to have the disease.

They include 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 60-69.

The possible mis-diagnosis was first revealed on  prompting a statement from the HSE.

A report of a review into the incident, released tonight, said all cancers were probably missed during the original test.

The missed cancers have emerged following a recall of 615 at Wexford General Hospital in 2013 and 2014.

Six of the patients are from Wexford and seven are from Carlow or Kilkenny.

One of the patients has died of bowel cancer and others are being treated for the disease.

The recall of hundreds of patients followed a discovery by BowelScreen, the national bowel screening programme for people aged 60 to 69.

It found that two patients who had a colonoscopy procedure in Wexford General Hospital in 2013 were discovered to have cancer in October and November 2014.

The recall of patients, prompted by the two cases, meant that some 600 patients were called back for a re-test.

BowelScreen said that up to the “end of 2014” two cases of cancer between the regular two-year screening gap were reported.

The revelation is a setback for the programme which currently has an uptake of just 45pc among the 60 to 69 age group .

Hospitals which are given the work by BowelScreen must be accredited and consultants who carry out the work have to agree to have their performance reviewed on a continuous basis.

A spokeswoman for the screening programme said last night that a number of recommendations to improve quality assurance are now in place.

Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne says the HSE needs to provide certainty for patients over the standards of its cancer screening programme following the revelation.

TD James Browne

“This is deeply concerning and comes as a shock to the patients and their families.

“The HSE needs to provide patients with certainty that there will not be a repeat occurrence of misdiagnosis at the hospital. It’s clear that new protocols are needed to prevent a repeat of this. In particular, the HSE needs to ensure the cancer screening programme at the hospital is adequately staffed and resourced. Failure to do so could result in over-worked staff making mistakes.

“I’ve written to the Minister for Health Simon Harris and have asked him to investigate this issue,” concluded Deputy Browne.

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