Children’s hospital lab has high risk of ‘serious error’

Review raises concerns about cytogenetics facility at Our Lady’s hospital in Crumlin

There were 106 genetic tests for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, carried out at Our Lady’s in Crumlin last year.

There were 106 genetic tests for multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, carried out at Our Lady’s in Crumlin last year.

 

Significant changes are needed to a genetic testing laboratory at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin following a review which warned there was “a high risk that services could either fail or result in a serious clinical error”.

The review of the cytogenetics lab at the hospital, commissioned by the HSE’s National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), also raised serious concerns about governance and management.

As a result of the review, one particular type of cytogenetic testing, which helps clinicians determine the best course of treatment for a specific form of cancer, has been suspended and is to be outsourced pending the introduction of a more modern system.

There were 106 genetic tests for the particular cancer, multiple myeloma (a type of blood cancer), carried out at Our Lady’s in Crumlin last year, which provides a range of genetic services for adult and paediatric patients.

The hospital has also brought in an external multi-professional team, including an expert from the UK, to support its overall department of clinical genetics, made up of clinical genetics, molecular genetics and cytogenetics, to improve services.

Turnaround times

The review also supported concerns raised by consultants in the health service about significant delays in turnaround times for some genetic laboratory tests.

Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin said on Wednesday that several internal and external reports over recent years have focused on the services provided by the department of clinical genetics.

“These reports found that there were delays in turnaround times for some genetic laboratory tests and highlighted deficits in departmental clinical, laboratory and operating systems. These reports also identified concerns with the leadership and clinical governance of the department. Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin apologises to patients and clinical service users for any delays in test results.”

Upgrade

The hospital said the external team is being led by an experienced NHS UK health manager who has begun working at the hospital.

It said the review carried out by the NCCP had recommended the upgrade of equipment used for cytogenetic testing of multiple myeloma.

“Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin has commenced recruitment of additional scientific staff and the purchase of equipment in order to comply with this recommendation,” it said.

The hospital said all the recommendations of the draft NCCP report would be implemented, as well as other improvements within the department. It also said if any patient safety issues were identified during the implementation of its improvement programme, it would contact patients directly.