59 patients requiring further follow-up or investigation in Kerry diagnosis scandal

A total of 59 patients were identified as requiring further clinical follow-up and or investigation as part of the recall caused by the missed diagnosis scandal at Kerry Hospital, the Dáil has heard.

Following repeat imaging during the recall, some ten further patients were referred to other hospitals for specialist care, Tánaiste Simon Coveney confirmed under questioning.

He said all imaging relating to one individual consultant radiologist between March 24, 2016, and July 27, 2017, had been reviewed.

The HSE advised the scope agreed for the review was focused solely on University Hospital Kerry, the Tánaiste said.

He told TDs the consultant radiologist at the heart of the scandal was placed on administrative leave pending a full review and has since resigned their position.

The Irish Medical Council was notified of the concerns in relation to the individual's poor professional performance by this doctor in October 2017 and its assessment was still underway.

He said the total number of patients identified during the review with missed or delayed diagnosis is 11.

“Some four of the patients identified with either missed or delayed diagnosis have now passed away. Of the 11 patients, eight had either re-presented (themselves) to the health service or their diagnosis was made by the normal multi-disciplinary review,” he said.

These patients had been diagnosed by the time of the look-back review. A further three, however, were found during the look-back review process and, as a result, diagnosed thereafter.

Mr Coveney said legal proceedings have been issued in three cases and they will be managed by the State Claims Agency.

Fianna Fáil's Dara Calleary highlighted the strain the number of vacancies within the health service is having on staff and called on the Government to ensure such positions were filled.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty said that unless management accepts its failings and responsibilities and put measures in place to address what has happened, then this can and could happen again. These concerns around misdiagnoses and hospital scans were being raised by hospital staff and GPs and it seems that the appropriate action was not taken until a later stage, he said.

"Will a timeline for the implementation of the report’s recommendations be produced and will it be published?

“The matter of most concern is that, over a year after this issue first came to light, guidelines in respect of the volume of work that radiologists should be undertaking, not only is it not in place but the process to develop those guidelines does not seem to have even started,” he said.

Mr Coveney responded by saying the report was only published in the past 48 hours. "There are 16 recommendations in the report and my understanding is that they are already being implemented," he said.

The Tánaiste said if there "is an individual family or an individual which the deputy is referring to with particular concerns, I do not have their details but if the deputy makes them available I will certainly ensure that the minister's office is made aware of same".

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