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57,000 xrays not reviewed at Tallaght hospital

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Post  Guest Thu 11 Mar - 21:49

57,000 X-rays not reviewed at Tallaght
Tuesday, 9 March 2010 22:53
A patient died when their diagnosis was delayed at Tallaght Hospital because x-rays were not reviewed by a consultant radiologist.

More than 57,000 X-rays taken at the hospital in Dublin between 2005 and the end of 2009 were not reviewed by a consultant radiologist.

The controversy only relates to adult patients and does not involve paediatrics.

The hospital says that to its deep regret, two patients had a delayed diagnosis as a result. One died last summer and another is undergoing treatment for cancer.

The hospital said that it informed the family of the patient who died as a result of a delayed diagnosis this afternoon. It said it had also spoken to the other patient today.

Tallaght Hospital CEO designate Professor Kevin Conlon said he was 'stunned' to learn of the problem when he was appointed on 14 December last year and was only informed today of the case of the patient who died.

Prof Conlon said the X-rays would have been reviewed at the time by a non-radiologist, most likely another clinician.

However, Prof Conlon added: 'This is totally unacceptable and it arose from systemic and process failures.'

In December, extra staff were appointed to clear the radiology backlog and to date, 34,752 of the 57,921 X-rays have now been reviewed and reports finished.

The hospital hopes to have the 23,169 remaining X-rays reviewed by May. The X-rays were for various tests including cancer, heart checks and orthopaedics.

Prof Conlon said: 'We have appointed a new Head of the Department of Radiology and we are interviewing next week for a new Clinical Director in Diagnostics.'

The hospital says the HSE was informed of the problem in December.

The HSE has said that it will meet with Tallaght Hospital management tomorrow to look at how the review of x-rays can be concluded as quickly as possible.

Fine Gael Health Spokesperson Dr James Reilly has expressed his sympathy for two patients and said he wants to know when the Minister for Health was made aware of the problem.

He added: 'The sheer volume and period of time during which X-rays were not reviewed by a consultant radiologist is astounding.

'We must now receive assurance from HIQA that this appalling situation does not exist in any other hospital in this country.'

To contact the Tallaght X-ray Helpline, call 1800-283059 from 9am-5pm.

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Post  Guest Thu 11 Mar - 21:52

HSE to audit hospitals over X-rays
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
The Health Service Executive has said it will be asking all of its hospitals to confirm that they do not have similar problems to Tallaght Hospital with delays in reviewing X-rays.

Dr Barry White, HSE National Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said that until that audit was completed, the Executive could not provide reassurance.

Dr White was speaking after a meeting with Tallaght Hospital management and doctors on the controversy.

He said the review of the remaining 23,000 X-rays at Tallaght can not be completed any faster than the May timescale already indicated.

The HSE is to carry out an investigation into the circumstances that led to the accumulation of X-rays not read by radiologists at Tallaght.

The investigation will be chaired by a person independent of the hospital and the HSE and details will be announced in the coming days.

The HSE said Professor Kevin Conlon, CEO designate of Tallaght Hospital, supports its investigation.

It also said it is fully supportive of Professor Conlon and the management team at Tallaght Hospital in dealing with the outstanding X-rays.

Call for Minister to resign

Earlier, Fine Gael's Health Spokesman Dr James Reilly said Minister for Health Mary Harney should resign over the problem of unread X-rays at Tallaght Hospital.

It was revealed yesterday that a patient died and another is being treated for cancer after almost 58,000 X-rays of adult patients, taken between 2005 and the end of last year, were never reviewed by a consultant radiologist.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mary Harney said she first heard there were problems in December, but that it was only yesterday when she first appreciated the scale of the problem.

Ms Harney last night said the priority is that the remainder of the backlog of X-rays be cleared, so that concerned patients could be reassured as soon as possible.

The Irish Hospital Consultants' Association has said that over 40 letters were written by consultant radiologists at Tallaght to management over a four-year period expressing concerns regarding the volume of work they were expected to do and were able to do.

IHCA Deputy General Secretary Donal Duffy said he was not aware of any replies.

Initial backlog thought to be 700 X-rays

In a statement today, Tallaght Hospital outlined the sequence of events leading to the revelations about the failures related to the checking of X-rays.

The hospital says that initially the number of X-rays involved was thought to be 700.

It was not until 14 December that a report ordered by Prof Conlon showed the true figure of unreported X-rays to be 57,921, the hospital said.

It added: 'The backlog in radiology was raised at the Board of the Hospital in May 2009, but the full extent of the problem was not clear until the new Chief Executive designate took up his appointment in December 2009.'

The Chairman of the Hospital Lyndon MacCann commented on revelations today that a Tallaght-based GP had written to him expressing concerns about the problem in April 2009.

Mr MacCann said that he only learned this afternoon that Dr Tom O'Dowd had done so.

Despite the letter having being stamped as 'received' by the Chief Executive's office on 27 April 2009, Mr MacCann said he had not known of this letter until today.

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Post  Guest Thu 11 Mar - 21:55

3,500 GP letters not reviewed at Tallaght
Thursday, 11 March 2010 21:48
Tallaght Hospital has admitted that there was a backlog in October of almost 3,500 GP referral letters that had not been reviewed by a consultant.

The hospital said that all of these referrals are now being dealt with. It rejected claims that 30,000 letters were unprocessed and said that all letters are opened on receipt.

The claim of unprocessed letters was made by Professor Tom O'Dowd of Trinity College, who first alerted the hospital last April to X-ray referral problems.

Two days ago, it emerged that 58,000 X-rays of adult patients - taken between 2005 and the end of 2009 - were not reviewed by a consultant radiologist.

One patient died as a result of a delayed diagnosis, while another is receiving treatment for cancer.

In a statement this evening Tallaght Hospital said: 'In October 2009, action was taken to clear a backlog of 3,498 letters, which had not been reviewed by a consultant. All of these are now actively being dealt with.

'There are no unopened GP referral letters in Tallaght Hospital. There is no backlog of referral letters for either adult or paediatric services.

'In the past year we have significantly improved the GP referral system for a majority of our clinics.

'The 2,591 staff of Tallaght Hospital continue to be focused on reducing the radiology backlog.'

The hospital added that 1,127 people had contacted it through its helpline.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Minister for Health Mary Harney said her Department should have been informed earlier of the scale of the backlog.

Ms Harney added that it was 'completely unacceptable' for any referral letters to be left unopened.

Tallaght GP Dr Aodhagan O'Reilly said today that a period of up to four years could pass without a response to referral letters.

He said in one case a patient was referred in 2004 and there has yet to be a reply.

Dr O'Reilly said that he has recently begun getting responses from the hospital to letters that date back a number of years.

The Health Service Executive has said that it will publish data on its audit of all hospitals on radiology issues when all of the reports from the hospitals are compiled.

Govt rejects calls for Tallaght debate

Earlier, the Government rejected Opposition demands for a debate this evening or next week on the situation at the hospital.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said there must be accountability in the Dáil on such life and death issues.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said Minister Harney's itinerary in New Zealand read like 'a Lord of the Rings tour', and that the only thing missing was dinner with Bilbo Baggins.

Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said the problems were unlikely to be confined to Tallaght Hospital.

But Tánaiste Mary Coughlan said the facts must be ascertained by an independent investigation before answers can be given.

Minster Harney said in a statement this evening that she has been assured that the review of X-rays will be completed in ten weeks.

'Patients' interests and standards of care must come first,' she said. 'For that reason the review of unread X-rays is being given top priority by the hospital.

'The investigation of circumstances that gave rise to this situation will be fully addressed through the independent review announced by the HSE.'

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister of State and local TD Conor Lenihan said the incident had highlighted the need for changes in the governance of the hospital.

He said the 22-member board was too unwieldy and management had to be slimmed down.


The operating times of the helpline for people affected by the controversy have been extended and are now open from 8am until 8pm. The numbers are: 1800-283059, and 1800-283293.

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