Latest: Patient developed inoperable tumour after delayed Kerry hospital diagnosis, family claim

Update 10am: The family of a patient at University Hospital Kerry claim he has developed an inoperable tumour after a delayed diagnosis.

A re-check of 46,000 scans is underway after errors were found with a number of results.

The problems are being linked to a consultant radiologist who worked there during March 2016 and July of this year.

So far University Hospital Kerry has acknowledged that seven serious cancer cases were missed or misdiagnosed.

Tralee Sinn Féin Councillor, Toiréasa Ferris, has been approached by the family of one of those patients.

"There was a six-month delay between when first scan or x-ray took place to when another was carried out and it had progressed to a stage where the tumour is inoperable," she said.

"Specialists that they are dealing with cannot understand how this could have been missed," she added.

Timeline

- Evelyn Ring

    • July: Management alerted about a critical, missed cancer diagnosis by hospital staff, which resulted in a delayed diagnosis. Two other patients, who had cancer misdiagnoses, identified over the summer.
    • August: Management decides that a look-back is needed, as attention centres on the work of a previous hospital staff member. GPs and consultants had also raised issues about the work of the individual at the centre of the review.
    • October: A full review of 46,000 scans begins. 26,000 patients affected.
    • December: 18,000 cases reviewed and 21 patients recalled, but no further follow-up treatment needed. The look-back is expected to take eight to 10 weeks.

      Any patients needing urgent intervention during the audit will be contacted immediately.

      The hospital helpline number, 1800 742 900, opened yesterday and received a steady stream of calls throughout the day.

    The helpline operates from 9am to 5pm weekdays.

HSE under fire amid look-back at 46,000 files over missed diagnoses

Seven serious cases, all involving cancer, were missed or misdiagnosed by a staff member at University Hospital Kerry, a review of more than 46,000 files has found, writes Anne Lucey.

briefing for councillors, TDs and health forum members focused on the workload placed on the individual staff member. There was strong criticism also of HSE policy with regard to informing the public and the media.

In response to a query about the staff member from the Mayor of Tralee Norma Foley, Gerard O’Callaghan of the HSE said the consultant radiologist had previously worked in the UK and Canada.

One of the biggest ever look-backs in this country – involving 46,000 files including reports of scans, X-rays and ultrasound imaging involving more than 26,000 patients — is under way after three missed cancer diagnoses which came to light in July. The review has been under way since October.

The Irish Examiner understands the three cases which sparked the look-back and which had been missed were “very obvious cancers”.

Fearghal Grimes. Pictures: Domnick Walsh/ Eye Focus

They were followed by another four “serious” cases which had also been missed or misdiagnosed and those scans had taken place prior to July.

However questions were being raised by individual GPs and consultants prior to July, it also emerged.

Management revealed the additional serious misdiagnosed cancer cases following questioning by Cllr Toireasa Ferris (SF) who said she had been contacted by a fourth family since news broke of the review through the media on Sunday.

“This morning I spoke to the family of a constituent from Kerry who had a scan in early summer and as a result of an erroneous report on that scan received a delayed diagnosis for a serious cancer,” she said. Ms Ferris said had the family known they would have paid for a private scan but the cancer was now inoperable.

The review got under way in October. As of Monday 20,923 scans relating to 12,923 patients have now been reviewed by radiologists and there has been no major discrepancy found. The reviewers are working backwards chronologically from July and have so far covered the 2017 period. It will take a further 10 weeks to complete.

The review team of six external radiologists is being increased by two, Health Minister Harris had ordered.

Celia Cronin

The “look back” under way in Tralee was one of the biggest ever in this country, and Department of Health knew of it since July, according to Gerard O’Callaghan of the HSE.

Concerns had been raised earlier in the year about the work of the consultant radiologist but these were “less serious”, Dr Claire O’Brien, clinical director, confirmed.

A workload of 46,000 scans, X-rays and ultrasound images and reports by one individual over 16 months is astonishing, councillors and TDs said.

At first, the seven senior HSE personnel and hospital management team insisted the issue was wholly related to “competence” of one individual.

However, Cllr Aoife Thornton ( FG) said she could not accept that analysis. Other representatives also warned against scapegoating an individual.

Ms Thornton, a solicitor by profession said: “I am not convinced it is about competence. I am not satisfied it’s competency, that it is not workload.”

Fergal Grimes, UHK hospital manager, said the five-member radiology team was commensurate with the size of UHK. However, he also revealed some radiology department work was being outsourced “to release pressure” on the department.

If there are concerns regarding the workload on individuals that would be addressed, as part of the review, Mr Grimes also said.

Earlier, local GP Dr Gary Stack of Killarney said he would have raised concerns in relation to a small number of X-rays earlier in the year.

There was nothing major but the reports back raised the practice’s concerns. It was only when a number of other GPs and consultants also raised concerns that alarm bells would have gone off, he believed.

Earlier: SIPTU prepared to enter into meeting with senior management 'in good faith' over Kerry hospital scan review

SIPTU has confirmed it will attend talks with senior hospital management as early as next week to discuss concerns at the radiology department at University Hospital Kerry.

It comes as Health Minister Simon Harris pledges that the HSE will provide an update on the hospital's current X-ray review on Thursday as efforts continue to check 46,000 images.

SIPTU's Health-Division Organiser Paul Bell said radiographers had raised issues about the X-ray department a year ago and had repeatedly asked to discuss a report published last December.

"We're prepared to enter into those discussions with senior management and managers from outside the hospital in order to make progress," he said.

"Our members are somewhat aggrieved that it has taken so long to get to this discussion. Nevertheless, we are prepared to enter into a meeting in good faith and we are prepared to do our very best to bring those changes about in the interest of safety for the Department and in the interest of serving the public," he added.


 

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