Patients are promised results within 48 hours
MANAGEMENT at Tallaght Hospital have pledged to let worried patients know within 48 hours whether their X-rays have been read by a radiologist and if their medical condition was misdiagnosed.
Two helplines have been set up at the hospital to answer queries from members of the public after the hospital admitted that a patient died last summer after their X-ray was not properly read.
A second patient whose X-rays had not been read by a radiologist is now undergoing treatment for cancer.
The hospital yesterday recorded around 100 calls per hour, with 823 calls recorded by 7pm last night. A total of 206 patients were called back, with the first return call made to patients by the CEO designate, Professor Kevin Conlon, just before 11am.
"We anticipate that patients will receive confirmation of their situation within a 24- to 48-hour period," a spokeswoman said.
Janette Byrne of Patients Together said she was shocked at the huge numbers of X-rays that lay unread for so long.
"We're heard of this kind of thing happening before with individual patients who ring us," she said.
"But this has gotten out of control at this stage.
"The minister is using the line that mistakes happen.
"But the public isn't stupid. They know mistakes happen but she's the Minister for Health and we look to her to be in control, that's her job.
"She's left us with the feeling that nobody has our backs."
Stephen McMahon of the Patients Association said the most important thing is to look after the patients and then to carry out a review of how the X-ray debacle happened.
"There's a very great need for all processes, all parties, and all interactions to be looked at to ensure that it never happens again," he said.
He said he would not agree with calls from the opposition for Mary Harney to resign, pointing out that it was she who set up the Health Information and Quality Authority.
"What we need to concentrate on now is seeing what happened, who knew what and when," he added.
Richie O'Reilly of the Tallaght Hospital Action Group said it had warned hospital authorities a number of years ago about the need for more radiologists. "The whole thing is terrible," he said.
"The hospital is being run on a shoestring so it's not that shocking that this has happened.
"The hospital simply doesn't have enough radiologists," he added.
Rebecca O'Malley, who went without the correct treatment for 18 months after her case was misdiagnosed in Cork University Hospital in 2005, said: "People are extremely upset, angry and disillusioned with the health service and the bland assurances that things are getting better, that we are learning lessons from what is happening.
"But it is clear lessons have not been learnt from past misdiagnosis cases."
The helpline numbers are 1800 283059 and 1800 283293. They are open from 8am to 8pm.