Wexford General Hospital (WGH) has reviewed a number of screening and diagnostic colonoscopies undertaken in the hospital in 2013 and 2014.
The review took place because the HSE’s BowelScreen programme raised concerns about the quality of screening colonoscopy procedures undertaken in WGH on its behalf and this instigated a HSE quality assurance process. This process was initiated following the identification of two patients in October and November 2014 with interval cancers (a cancer that is detected between bowel screenings). Both patients had previously undergone a screening colonoscopy in 2013 in WGH as part of the BowelScreen programme. As part of this process, the Bowelscreen programme and WGH reviewed screening and diagnostic (requested by a GP / Consultant) colonoscopies undertaken at the Hospital in 2013 and 2014.
The expert medical teams, who reviewed patients’ files found, that in some cases, it was not sufficiently clear that the very end of the colon (bowel) was examined during the procedure due to the lack of clear photographic evidence.
As a precautionary measure, they recommended the following;
· Recall of 118 patients, who previously underwent a screening colonoscopy, for a repeat procedure. Every patient was written to by BowelScreen in early February, followed up by telephone and appointments scheduled for a repeat colonoscopy as indicated.
· Recall of 163 patients, who previously underwent a diagnostic colonoscopy, for a consultant provided outpatient appointment. Every patient was written to by WGH in early February with a scheduled appointment. 66 patients have already attended for their appointment and the remainder will be seen in the coming week.
The HSE can confirm that all patients involved in this recall have already been contacted by either BowelScreen or Wexford General Hospital. Patients’ GPs have also been advised.
Commenting on the review, Mr Kenneth Mealy, Consultant Surgeon, Wexford General Hospital emphasised that this process was a precautionary measure and that the risk to patients was low; “This issue was identified as part of a HSE quality assurance process. Patients’ files were reviewed and those affected were offered an outpatient appointment or a repeat colonoscopy. We acknowledge that patients may be anxious about being called for an appointment but I want to reassure them that this is purely a precautionary measure and that everyone involved in this recall has already been contacted.”
Mr Mealy also reiterated the importance of population based screening programmes and of people availing of their invitation to participate saying, “The BowelScreen programme saves lives. Nationally it has already identified more than 200 bowel cancers since the programme started in 2012. A further 2,000 people have had pre-cancerous growths removed. There is no doubt that this free national screening programme is saving lives.”
The HSE established a Safety Incident Management Team to manage the review process which related only to one type of procedure, a colonoscopy, in Wexford General Hospital. The two patients who were identified with interval cancers that led to this review process are receiving treatment, have met with clinicians as part of the HSE's open disclosure policy and their cases are being reviewed separately.
All patients affected by this review have been contacted and provided with contact details for any queries they may have.
The HSE’s Information Line is available from 8.00am to 8.00pm, Monday to Friday and 9.30am to 4.30pm on Saturday: Callsave 1850 24 1850.