Cancer reassessments are clear after the botched



All women whose BreastScreen Otago Southland mammograms were referred for urgent reassessment following a botched initial reading were cleared of cancer.

Contract radiology firm Pacific Radiology began contacting women a fortnight ago to be rechecked after an internal audit found a doctor reading scan results failed to consistently detect cancers spotted by other doctors.

This doctor no longer works for the company.

Pacific Radiology radiologist Dr Jacqueline Copland said all affected women who were scanned as part of the Department of Health-run breast cancer screening program had now undergone follow-up scans and no cancer. had not been found.

All physician-read scans of patients referred by the Southern District Health Board and by private physicians were still being tracked, but to date none of the scans in those categories that had been reviewed had found cancer either. said Dr Copland.

The clinical error, which was discovered through internal quality control checks, meant that more than 7,500 scans the doctor read between January 2020 and May 2021 were reviewed and 60 women were called in for an examination. revaluation.

Regularly, Pacific Radiology has two clinicians read breast imaging results to minimize the risk of missed cancer.

Dr Copland said the incident had already been reviewed as part of Pacific Radiology’s quality control processes.

“We have been working alongside the Ministry of Health since the start of this case and our response and actions have been agreed with the ministry at every step,” she said.

“We will do a cursory review of our response to see what can be learned from this whole process and notify affected parties upon conclusion.”

BreastScreen Otago Southland’s quality assurance processes identified the problem, and that’s exactly what they were designed to do, she said.

“This situation was not foreseeable when the doctor was certified to work at BreastScreen Otago Southland.

“The deterioration in the performance of this physician was seen due to the regular follow-up that occurs and the high performance standards that are met by other physicians working in the screening program.”

Pacific Radiology was confident that any future performance issues would be identified by the company’s existing processes, but all of its systems were regularly audited, Dr Copland said.

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