Thousands of x-rays and scans at seven Irish hospitals are being reviewed and patients recalled after concerns were raised about radiologist negligence.
The review of x-rays and scans was ordered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) following concerns were raised about three locum radiologists. The radiologists have not been named, and all three are believed to have now left the country, but their negligence could have devastating effects on hundreds of patients.
At least one patient is known to have been diagnosed with cancer two years after his scan was first assessed at Bantry General Hospital in 2013, and sixty-two patients have been recalled at Cavan Monaghan Hospital. A further six patients have been recalled at Kerry Hospital, while reviews are still continuing at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Connolly Hospital.
No patient safety concerns were identified during a review at Wexford General and Roscommon Hospitals, and while the HSE is issuing reassuring statements that “most” patients will not have suffered an adverse effect due to radiologist negligence, the bill for this wide-ranging and time-consuming review could have been avoided if the HSE had not cut consultant pay by 30 percent in 2012.
Although the pay cut was largely reversed this year, it has left a shortfall in the number of radiologists working in Irish hospitals. Usually, when a radiologist is uncertain about an x-ray or scan, they will consult a colleague; however, with some hospitals drastically understaffed, consulting a colleague is not always an option.
In the case of the review of radiologist negligence that is currently being investigated, their assessments could have been confirmed if a colleague was available – or avoided altogether if the national integrated medical imaging system, an electronic system that provides for filmless imaging data across the service, had been implemented as it was supposed to have been five years ago.