Kerry hospital says seven patients whose scans were misread have died

Review of more than 46,000 tests found 11 patients suffered delayed cancer diagnosis

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has called for a fuller investigation into the matter. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae has called for a fuller investigation into the matter. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Seven patients whose scans were missed or misread and whose cancer diagnoses were delayed at University Hospital Kerry have now died, the hospital has confirmed.

Eleven patients whose scans were read by a locum radiologist suffered a delayed cancer diagnosis and serious impact on their health, a review of more than 46,000 tests at the Tralee hospital found last December.

At that stage, four of the patients were already deceased but since then a further three patients have died, senior HSE managers told Oireachtas members at a meeting in the hospital on Monday afternoon.

The South/South West Hospital Group, which includes Tralee hospital, said all 11 patients have had appropriate care and treatment following diagnosis and they or their families continued to be in contact with the hospital’s risk manager.

“We would ask that the media treat this information sensitively for the families of the patients who have died and for the remaining patients who continue to be cared for by the hospital,” the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

Apologies

It also repeated earlier “sincere and unreserved” apologies to the patients who have been harmed, and their families.

Kerry TD Danny Healy-Rae called for a fuller investigation into the matter and said he was not happy with the level of investigation thus far.

The errors were spotted in the summer of 2017 in the case of three patients whose cancers had been missed. A review of more than 46,000 CT scans, ultrasound scans and chest X-rays involving 26,000 patients between March 2016 and July 2017 began late that year.

The images reviewed were the work of a single consultant radiologist, a locum, working in the hospital during the period.

The locum consultant radiologist was placed on administrative leave in late July 2017 and resigned in October that year.

Among the main recommendations by the outside radiologist who carried out the review was the need for the HSE and the Faculty of Radiologists to define acceptable volumes of work for individual radiologists.

Legal proceedings

A number of the patients involved are taking legal proceedings,

One of the patients, now deceased, waited 76 weeks for a correct diagnosis of lung cancer, according to the review. The misreporting of the patient’s chest X-ray emerged during an audit sparked by concerns raised by a colleague about the work of the radiologist.

In another case, a patient had a diagnosis of lung cancer delayed by 51 weeks after a chest X-ray was misreported. The disease was detected when the patient was referred for another X-ray by a GP.