Northern Trust review of x-ray images reveals discrepancies in 43 cases

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust said a review of a radiologist’s work identified discrepancies in 43 cases.

The Retrospective Radiology Review examines the work of a locum consultant radiologist at Antrim Region Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital and Ballymena Health and Care Center between July 2019 and February 2020.

The review was launched in June and was described by Health Minister Robin Swann as “the most serious concern”, with more than 9,000 patients having been contacted.

The consultant’s work was reviewed following concerns raised by the General Medical Council, prompting a comprehensive retrospective review by the trust of all radiology reports issued by the consultant.

Radiologists review images, including X-rays and ultrasounds, however, the trust said breast services were not part of the retrospective review.

The chair of the retrospective review steering group, Dr Seamus O’Reilly, said he reviewed about 7,902 images, or about 60% of the total number of images in the reports.

“To date, we have identified level 1 discrepancies in a total of six images. Level 1 discrepancies are errors or omissions in reporting that could have had an immediate and significant clinical impact for the affected patients,” said Dr O’Reilly, who is also Medical Director of the Northern Trust.

“In addition, we identified 37 other images with level 2 discrepancies, i.e. errors or omissions in reporting with likely impact to patients. Most of the images classified as having major discrepancies of level 1 and level 2 are CT scans, but some are MRIs, chest x-rays and other x-rays.”

The trust provided assurances in the cases of 4,012 patients that there was no further cause for concern.

Dr O’Reilly added: “The review is progressing well and we hope to be able to complete the remaining images – just over 5,000 – over the next few weeks. Our clinical subgroup continues to meet weekly to review patients whose images have been classified as Level 1 or Level 2. It also considers certain Level 3 images to decide what actions are appropriate.