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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Northern Trust radiologist review finds 66 discrepancies


A review of the work of a former locum consultant radiologist in the Northern Trust has identified major discrepancies in 66 images.

The trust has concluded a review of 13,030 scans and x-rays.

The review was initiated in June after the General Medical Council expressed concerns about the work of the locum consultant radiologist.

The cases of 17 patients will be investigated at the highest level of the hospital.

Between July 2019 and February 2020, the doctor worked at Northern Health Trust hospitals.

As part of the review, over 9,000 patients were contacted.

Dr Seamus O’Reilly, the trust’s medical director, has stated that ten of the 17 patients have died since their images were taken.

“I think it’s important to note that patients die for a variety of reasons, and it would be entirely incorrect at this point to attribute those deaths to inaccurate image reporting,” he said.

“It is a possibility and the SAI will look very closely at that.”

The review found six images at level one, indicating a significant discrepancy in which errors or omissions in reporting could have had an immediate and significant clinical impact on the patients involved.

A further 60 images were classified as level two, indicating a significant disparity with potential clinical implications.

“The majority of the images with Level 1 and Level 2 discrepancies are CT scans, but some are MRI scans, chest x-rays, and other x-rays,” Dr. O’Reilly explained.

He stated that images with level one and level two concerns were reviewed on a weekly basis by a group of experts.

They also looked at some images classified as level three, which are unlikely to have a clinical impact.

“That detailed clinical assessment, which resulted in the recall of 69 patients, was to determine whether any clinical harm occurred as a result of the discrepancies discovered in the lookback review,” Dr. O’Reilly explained.

“I can confirm that the clinical assessment group has determined that 17 patients should now be included in a Level 3 Serious Adverse Incident (SAI) review after careful consideration.”

According to Dr. O’Reilly, an independent panel will provide individual case reports for each patient determined to be a SAI, explaining what happened, why it happened, and how this may have affected the patient/relative, as well as whether the patient’s outcome would have been different if the discrepancy had not occurred.

He also stated that the panel is expected to make recommendations on how to improve radiology reporting processes in order to reduce the likelihood of similar adverse events occurring in the future.

The trust stated that it will now contact affected patients and families to inform them of the pending SAI review and to solicit their input throughout the process.

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