Scans to be fixed, cancer patient was told

A breast cancer patient who settled her action for substantial damages after a radiology misdiagnosis at Kerry General Hospital three years ago received an assurance that system failings at the hospital would be rectified.

Scans to be fixed, cancer patient was told

Tralee solicitor Damien Cashell said yesterday: “Her primary reason for bringing the case was to ensure systems in place at the time would change, and she was devastated to learn this week the problems persisted.”

Mr Cashell said that the woman’s case was only settled last September, after the misdiagnosis in 2014.

The case was separate to the current major review at the hospital, which has since been renamed University Hospital Kerry.

Mr Cashell, of Cashell Solicitors, said: “When my client brought a case against the HSE, her main reason for doing so was to ensure that the systems that were in place at the time would change. A full internal investigation took place, which acknowledged the failings in the system.

“High Court proceedings issued and the case settled.

“Unfortunately, it appears this case and others like it did not prompt sufficient change.”

Mr Cashell said that the woman was extremely upset by reports of the major scan review at the hospital, where more than 46,000 x-rays, ultrasound images, and CAT scans are being re-examined.

He said: “I continue to deal with a number of cases of the misreading of scans leading to delayed diagnosis of cancer.”

In the case of the woman, who received damages last September, he said she had initially been given an ‘all-clear’. Mr Cashell said the “delay in his client’s diagnoses” meant the woman’s cancer had advanced significantly and she was still undergoing treatment for cancer.

“It is a very unfortunate set of circumstances for those involved and it highlights how the system and those working in it are overstretched,” he said.

“While the hospital appears to be doing everything in its power to remedy matters, however, these errors are impacting on people’s lives in a serious way.”

In the case of his client, he said: “The scan in question was not read correctly, and she was given the all-clear. There were problems with filing and with notification.”

The case, however, is not related to the current mass review which started at the end of October and involves the period from March 2016 to July 2017.

In all, seven serious misdiagnoses had been identified before October.

Of the 46,000 scans, 22,000 have been reviewed, resulting in a further 34 patients being recalled for repeat scans. No further clinical follow-up was required following the re-test.

It is believed the errors recorded to date were well below the accepted range of between 3%-5% for individual radiologists.

Meanwhile, there are persistent concerns over the workload of radiologists.

Public representatives have warned against “scapegoating” any individual. The workload of radiologists reportedly equates to 150 reports a day or 3,000 a month.

Representatives for radiographers have also warned of significant issues within the department relating to staffing matters.

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