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Three cancer cases among 10 Kerry Hospital patients affected by missed scan diagnosis

By Catherine Shanahan

The number of patients affected by either missed or delayed diagnoses at University Hospital Kerry following a review of scans has risen to 10.

The figure includes at least three cancer cases.

To date, 180 patients have been recalled for repeat imaging. Last week, four of those recalled required further investigation, in addition to another four the previous week.

This week, the South South West Hospital Group said an additional two patients will require further investigation.

This brings to 10 the overall number in need of additional follow-ups.

University Hospital Kerry.

The number of patients whose imaging has been reviewed so far is 22,933, accounting for over 86% of 26,756 individual patients.

The review is now more than 80% complete, having examined 38,289 x-rays, CAT scans, and ultrasounds, from a total of 46,235 read and reported by a former radiologist at the hospital.

This review of images taken between March 2016 and July 2017 began following three cases of serious, delayed diagnosis coming to light.

News of the review broke before Christmas when it emerged that the South South West Hospital Group was re-examining thousands of scans.

That was after patient safety concerns became apparent during the summer, when the hospital was notified of three serious, reportable events.

Clinical director Claire O’Brien said abnormalities were found by a staff member at the hospital, which led to a decision to examine the work of a former staff member.

Dr O’Brien said there were serious cases of delayed diagnoses at the hospital.

It was later confirmed that the employee in question was a locum consultant radiologist who no longer works at the hospital.

Patients whose scans are being re-examined are from Kerry, north Cork, and south Limerick.

The look-back — which involves up to a dozen consultants, including a number of external doctors — is being conducted in reverse order chronologically, from July 2017 back to March 2016.

RTÉ are also reporting that one patient at Cork University Hospital still remains to have a CT scan following the hospital’s 2,600 X-ray backlog. 

The backlog began during the summer months when staff shortages became a problem.

14 patients were recalled and the final one will be seen to next month.

A spokesperson for CUH has said: "Cork University Hospital can confirm that there is one CT scan scheduled for early February.

"Following this, the re-call process will be completed.

"To date, there has been no further follow-up required and no adverse outcomes."

- Additional reporting by Digital Desk