A major flaw has been identified in the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) computer systems resulting in over 25,000 patients having to undergo repeat tests, such as MRIs, x-rays, CTs and ultrasounds, according to The Irish Times.
The HSE stores patient tests at the National Integrated Medical Imaging System (NIMIS), which is used in forty hospitals nationwide. When the images, from departments such as radiology and cardiology, were archived the “less than” symbol “<” was omitted from the reports. As a result, patients’ symptoms may have appeared more severe than in reality and they may have received unnecessary treatment. In addition, patients who did, in fact, need treatment may have been overlooked.
Speaking about the IT discrepancy, Ronan Hynes, Patient Safety Advocate and Partner at Keating Connolly Sellors, said; “Patient safety has to be paramount. The HSE has confirmed that the risk to patients is low, however that is little comfort to those potentially affected. A swift and comprehensive investigation is required. Patients and their GP’s need to be given as much information as possible to alleviate their genuine concerns to enable the appropriate clinical referrals, if necessary.”
Dr Colm Henry, the HSE’s national clinical adviser for acute hospitals, described the IT flaw as a “glitch”, but also advised that patients who are affected would be contacted immediately and their safety was a priority. The HSE is now reviewing the risk to patients and determining if a further clinical review is warranted.
Ronan Hynes, Partner at Keating Connolly Sellors, has particular expertise and experience in patient safety and medical law. Ronan can be contacted for advice at [email protected] or by telephone on +353 (0)61 414 355 or +353 (0)61 432 348.
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