Cancer scandal radiologist still on medical register

THE elderly doctor at the centre of a fresh cancer misdiagnosis scandal is still registered to practice in both Ireland and Britain.

Dr James Alexander Murray, 74, remains on the register of the Irish Medical Council and the General Medical Council in Britain despite a review of all chest x-rays and CT scans he reported on while working at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, between August 2006 and August 2007.

Under existing legislation, the Irish Council can make an ex parte application to the High Court for an order to suspend Dr Murray’s registration, whether or not he is the subject of a complaint, if it considers the suspension necessary to protect the public.

The look-back of Dr Murray’s work involves rechecking about 6,000 routine chest x-rays and bout 70 CT scans following concerns that four patients allegedly had their diagnosis delayed after an abnormality on their chest x-ray was not spotted. These patients were subsequently diagnosed with lung cancer and have since passed away.

In a weekend newspaper, Dr Murray, consultant radiologist, claimed he was being scapegoated by the Health Service Executive and that other staff had also viewed the x-rays and missed the cancer.

Speaking from his home in East Lothian, near Edinburgh, Dr Murray said it had come as a “complete surprise” to him that he may be held responsible for the deaths of a number of patients while working as a locum in Ireland.

“I made one mistake I am aware of but to hear I am being held responsible for more is a shock.

“Why I am being singled out for all of these supposed mistakes, when there were others in those hospitals who also saw the x-rays, bewilders me.”

Dr Murray also claimed he had not been informed by the HSE that all of his work in Ireland was under review.

“The only correspondence I have had on this was a letter last autumn from my former boss at the hospitals notifying me of the deaths of two patients whose x-rays I had allegedly misread and asking for my response,” he said. However a spokesperson for the HSE said yesterday the consultant had been informed of the review “in advance of it commencing”. The spokesperson also said the HSE had received 284 calls concerning the review, since Friday, after letters were sent to 4,500 patients advising that their x-rays or scans were part the review. Embarrassingly for the HSE, the letters have all had to be resent after the private company employed to carry out the exercise — Glasnevin-based Mail Marketing — admitted misaddressing some of them. Patients can expect to receive the re-issued letters early this week.

HSE Information Line: 1850 24 1850, open from 10am to 6pm.

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