Limerick patients included in Kerry hospital review

University Hospital Kerry
University Hospital Kerry

Scans and files of an unspecified number patients from West Limerick are among the 46,000 medical records being independently reviewed by University Hospital Kerry following the discovery of three serious errors.

The Tralee hospital has placed a consultant on administrative leave and referred her case to the Medical Council for potential investigation. She denies any wrongdoing and says she will contest the case.

X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound scans of 26,700 patients by hospital staff and six external radiologists are under review since late October. Independent experts are also examining the handling of tens of thousands of files from March 2016 to July 2017, involving patients in Kerry, North Cork and West Limerick.

21 patients have been contacted for follow-up medical examinations, and no major missed cases have been identified.The review also detected some diagnostic errors that have led to delays for patients in obtaining the correct treatment.

The South West Hospital Group said that a clinical co-ordinator is liaising with clients and arranging follow-up care and patients needing urgent intervention will be immediately contacted before the full review is complete.

University Hospital Kerry, which has 300 beds, is the third largest hospital in the southern region and has a catchment area throughout Kerry, north Cork and part of west Limerick.

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A problem with the handling of MRI scans is an embarrassment for the hospital, which commissioned a state-of-the-art new MRI scanner last year. The manager of University Hospital Kerry, TJ O’Connor, said last May that the scanner was owned and fully operated by an external company and would be operational in a few weeks.

In response to a Dáil question to the Department of Health, he said that there were no staff shortages in operating the new scanner or handling the scans. The scanning problem is the second major controversy for the hospital in three months.

In September, a Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) report found that infection-control failures were putting the hospital’s patients at risk.

The hospital has set up a patient information line 1800 742 900 that will operate from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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