Cancer scan worry after patients were given wrong results
Thousands of patients face an agonising wait over Christmas to find out if they have been wrongly given the all-clear for a range of illnesses, including cancer.
A major review of 46,000 X-rays, ultrasound and CT scans has been under way for months at University Hospital Kerry.
It was prompted when three patients were discovered to have been given the incorrect diagnosis.
All the scans were examined by the same consultant radiologist who worked at the hospital from March 2016 to July this year before resigning in October.
The first blunder involved a patient who had been cleared after a scan in June but was found to have a serious illness when re-screened in July. They were sent for immediate treatment.
Two more patients under the care of the same radiologist also had their illnesses missed.
This sparked concern and an investigation was approved by the HSE on August 30, said a spokesman for the South and South West Hospitals' Group.
It was decided to review every scan the radiologist was involved in.
Some 26,000 patients are at the centre of the investigation, a number of whom had several scans. They were originally assessed for various injuries and illnesses, including cancer. So far 18,000 scans have been reviewed by a team of six independent radiologists.
As a result, 21 patients have been recalled for a re-check.
"None of the recalled patients have required any further follow up or treatment," said the spokesman.
The huge backlog of scans means it will be another eight to 10 weeks before all the patients will know whether they need to have another scan.
"A clinical co-ordinator has been identified to liaise as necessary with patients, arranging appropriate clinical follow-up.
"Any patients deemed to require urgent intervention will be immediately contacted before the full audit is complete."
Only those patients who need to be re-screened will be contacted.