Consultant tells inquiry 'reports go missing'
IT WAS not unusual for biopsy and other lab reports to go missing at a hospital in Loughlinstown, Dublin, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry was told yesterday.
Giving evidence in a case involving a man who did not receive the results of a skin cancer biopsy until 15 months after he had the test, consultant histopathologist at St Columcille’s Hospital Dr Niamh Nolan said secretaries frequently phoned her department seeking reports after they had been issued. “Reports go missing; I don’t know why.”
Dr Nolan was giving evidence in the case of Mr S, a 58-year-old man from Knocklyon, Co Dublin, who had a mole on his chest removed and biopsied at St Columcille’s in August 2008. He was not given a follow-up appointment and did not find out until November 2009 that he had a malignant melanoma. He died the following month.
His doctor, consultant surgeon Mashood Ahmed, who worked at St Columcille’s and at the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, has had two allegations of poor professional performance brought against him. He allegedly failed to ensure the results of his patient’s biopsy were pursued and failed to ensure a follow-up appointment was made for Mr S.
The committee had heard the report on the result of Mr S’s biopsy was issued on August 21st. Computer records showed four copies of the report were printed: one for delivery to Mr Ahmed, one for the day ward where Mr S had been treated, one for the national cancer registry and one for the hospital’s cancer liaison nurse. Though the nurse got her copy, Mr Ahmed said he did not.
Dr Nolan said yesterday there had been problems with reports sent to the day ward. They were left “in a particular area or on a window sill” with no one to deal with them. Asked if she had a responsibility to ensure consultants got their reports, she said one thing she could never do was “walk around the hospital and play post mistress. And the next thing I can’t do is make them read them.”
Oisin Quinn SC, for Mr Ahmed, said there was no evidence his client had got the report. Dr Nolan agreed. She said a system now operated and reports were collected from her department by consultants’ secretaries and signed for instead of being sent out. The case continues on June 15th.