Discrepancies identified in radiology review

A radiology review prompted by concerns about the work of a locum consultant has identified 12 major discrepancies so far, a Northern Ireland health trust has announced.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 3:18 pm
Antrim Area Hospital. Photo: Pacemaker Press

Last month the Northern Trust announced it was to conduct a lookback review of more than 13,000 radiology images of patients examined by the consultant radiologist.

Around 10,000 patients were informed their images were being reviewed.

The initiative was triggered after concerns were raised by the General Medical Council.

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The radiology image reporting completed by the radiologist related to the period July 2019 and February 2020.

On Wednesday, the Northern Trust said it had completed the review of 2,434 images so far, around a fifth of the total.

Each image is categorised on scale from one to five, with level 5 meaning no discrepancy has been found and Level 1 meaning a major discrepancy has been identified that could have had immediate and significant clinical impact.

The Level 2 category also concerns a major discrepancy, with probable clinical impact.

Dr Seamus O’Reilly, medical director at the Northern Trust and chairman of the steering group for the lookback review, said: “Obviously, it is images in Levels 1 and 2 that we are most concerned about.

“To date, there are 12 Level 1s and 2s (0.5% of those reviewed).

“Most of these concern CT scans where inaccurate initial reading of the scans could, or is likely to have had an impact on the patient’s clinical treatment and outcome.”

Patients impacted have been recalled.

A total of 2,334 of the images reviewed to date (96%) have been categorised as Levels 4 or 5, meaning either no discrepancy or a discrepancy of very doubtful significance.

A further 88 images have been categorised as Level 3, meaning there was a minor discrepancy but unlikely to have had any impact on the patient’s care or treatment.

All the images being reviewed would have been taken in Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital or the Ballymena Health and Care Centre.

Dr O’Reilly said the aim was to complete the review as soon as possible and to send out closure letters to those patients where review of their images has indicated no cause for concern.

“I am determined that we complete this review as quickly as possible and I am pleased to confirm that the independent sector provider has now come on board and we have also secured the services of both retired consultant radiologists and radiologists from other trusts,” he said.

“Already we have been able to send out closure letters to 1,655 of those patients who received the original letter and that process will continue throughout the review.”

A helpline and dedicated email address was established for anyone who received an initial letter informing that their images were being reviewed.

As of Monday July 26, the helpline had received a total of 996 calls and 75 emails had also been received.

The trust is also providing psychological support services throughout the course of the review for any patients who might be particularly anxious.

The freephone telephone number is 0800 023 4377 and the dedicated email address is: [email protected]