herald

Monday 10 December 2018

Patients died after cancer diagnosis delayed for weeks

University Hospital Kerry
University Hospital Kerry

One of the 11 patients who suffered a delayed diagnosis due to a hospital's X-ray and scan failures was unaware they had lung cancer for a year-and-a-half.

The shocking revelation emerged yesterday in a report from a review of thousands of patient checks overseen by a locum radiologist at University Hospital Kerry.

The patient is one of four who have since died.

The extent of the delay suffered by the patients whose cancer was not diagnosed has been revealed for the first time.

The delay was seven weeks in the case of another deceased patient, who had a rectal tumour which was not found in a CT scan.

A third patient died after their pancreatic cancer was not found for six weeks.

The fourth patient also passed away after a pelvic X-ray did not pick up that their cancer had spread to the bone.

The delay had a serious impact on the health of all the patients, six of whom had lung cancer.

The locum radiologist no longer works at the hospital.

The investigation was called for in September 2017 after three patients were discovered to have cancer only after they came back to the hospital in July and August.

They had been given the all-clear weeks earlier.

Four more patients returned to the hospital in the autumn, complaining of ongoing symptoms.

They received the devastating news that they were victims of delayed diagnosis and had been given incorrect results.

The look-back, which discovered three more cases of missed cancer, involved 46,234 images - CT scans, ultrasound scans and chest X-rays.

Substantial

It found a substantial rate of unreported clinically significant findings requiring clinical review to determine if patients should be recalled for imaging.

In total, 1,789 radiology reports were reviewed. Some 422 patients were identified for recall.

Of those, 59 patients required further clinical follow-up or investigations and tens were referred to other hospitals.

The review said the radiologist had a high volume of work.

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