IT glitch leaves 800 women without CervicalCheck results

Missing results only identified after patient contacted Department of Health

Frances McNamara, head of the National Screening Service, said CervicalCheck wrote to the women affected on July 1st and advised them to contact their GP to receive their results.

Frances McNamara, head of the National Screening Service, said CervicalCheck wrote to the women affected on July 1st and advised them to contact their GP to receive their results.

 

About 800 women did not receive their CervicalCheck smear test results because of an IT glitch, the Health Service Executive has confirmed.

The problem occurred at a Quest Diagnostics laboratory in Chantilly in Virginia in the US. The HSE only became aware of the issue after one patient contacted the Department of Health in relation to her missing results.

In a statement, the HSE said that IT updates had been required at the US facility to ensure results letters were issued to women and reports of results were issued to women’s GPs.

Details of the issue emerged last night on RTE News which reported that some result letters were delayed by up to nine months.

“As a result of slower than expected implementation of this update, approximately 800 results letters were not issued to women. The existence of an IT issue was identified following engagement with the Department of Health in relation to representations from a woman using our services.”

Frances McNamara, head of the National Screening Service, said CervicalCheck wrote to the women affected on July 1st and advised them to contact their GP to receive their results.

“CervicalCheck sincerely apologises for this delay, which we understand may have caused considerable anxiety for some women,” she said.

Some GPs and practice nurses have also reported in recent days that they have not received result reports. “CervicalCheck has requested Quest Diagnostics to issue these reports manually which Quest has advised will happen today [July 11th]. Our priority is to ensure the women involved are kept informed and receive their results promptly.”

The HSE said while it was now confident the IT system in the Chantilly laboratory can generate electronic results for women and GPs, Quest Diagnostics has informed the HSE that all necessary updates and testing to ensure this will be finalised in the next two weeks. “We are closely monitoring and engaging with the laboratory in this regard,” it said.

Cervical cancer patient and campaigner Lorraine Walsh said she was “flabbergasted” that yet another problem had emerged with the CervicalCheck system.

Ms Walsh, a patient representative on the Government-appointed CervicalCheck steering committee told RTE news women were again being put through unnecessary stress and upset.

“How many women are going to be saying: ‘I don’t know is that me? Am I one of these women? Do I have to contact my gp?’”

GPs may be facing an “onslaught” of worried patients she said.“Are the GPs going to get an onslaught of women now contacting them saying ‘am I one of these people do I need to take time off work? Do I need to go in to see you?’”

It was unacceptable that women would again be waiting months for test results, she said.

“It is just more upset and you know unnecessary for the women of Ireland that are waiting on smear result and obviously some of these women are waiting for months for these smear results.

The Chantilly facility was not one of the unapproved overseas laboratories identified in a report issued last month into the CervicalCheck controversy by Northern Ireland public health doctor Gabriel Scally.