Northern Trust radiology review discovers ‘major discrepencies’ in 12 patients so far

The Northern Trust confirmed this morning (Wednesday) that so far its review of the work of a locum consultant has revealed ‘major discrepencies’ in the reading of radiology images of 12 patients.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 8:44 am

This means that the initial reading of images could, or is likely to have had an impact on these patients’ clinical treatment and outcome.

The Trust’s Radiology Lookback Review relates to the work of a locum consultant radiologist who was engaged by the Trust from July 2019 to February 2020.

The review concerns 13,030 radiology images taken in Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital and the Ballymena Health and Care Centre and which were reported on by this radiologist.

The review concerns 13,030 radiology images taken in Antrim Area Hospital, Causeway Hospital, Whiteabbey Hospital, Mid Ulster Hospital and the Ballymena Health and Care Centre. Photo: Pacemaker Press

The Trust has written to 9,091 patients or the parents/guardians, where appropriate, to make them aware of the review, which commenced at the end of June.

Dr Seamus O’Reilly, Medical Director at the Northern Trust, and also Chair of the Steering Group for the lookback review, said: “I can confirm that as of Monday, July 26, we have completed the review of 2,434 images, which is almost one fifth of the total.

“Each image is being categorised in one of five levels, with a Level 5 category meaning that no discrepancy has been found up to Level 1, meaning that a major discrepancy has been identified that could have had immediate and significant clinical impact. The Level 2 category also concerns a major discrepancy, with probable clinical impact.

“2,334 of the images reviewed (96 percent of the total so far reviewed) have been categorised as Levels 4 or 5, meaning either no discrepancy or a discrepancy of very doubtful significance.

The entrance to Antrim Area Hospital. Picture: Google.

“A further 88 images have been categorised as Level 3 which means there was a minor discrepancy but unlikely to have had any impact on the patient’s care or treatment.”

Speaking to Radio Ulster, Dr O’Reilly confirmed that the consultant at the centre of the review is not currently working in the UK or Ireland.

Dr O’Reilly confirmed that a clinical sup-group meets every Friday to review and discuss those patients whose images have been categorised as Level 1 or Level 2.

Some patients whose images have been categorised as Level 3 are also discussed and decisions are made about who may need to be recalled. To date, this group has considered a total of 31 patients, following review of their images.

“Obviously, it is images in Levels 1 and 2 that we are most concerned about,” said Dr O’Reilly.

“To date, there are 12 Level 1s and 2s (approximately 0.5 per cent of the total number reviewed). Most of these concern CT scans where inaccurate initial reading of the scans could, or is likely to have had an impact on the patient’s clinical treatment and outcome.”

Dr O’Reilly stressed that the aim is to complete the review as soon as possible and to send out closure letters to those patients where review of their images has indicated no cause for concern.

“I am determined that we complete this review as quickly as possible and I am pleased to confirm that the independent sector provider has now come on board and we have also secured the services of both retired consultant radiologists and radiologists from other Trusts.”

“Already we have been able to send out closure letters to 1,655 of those patients who received the original letter and that process will continue throughout the review.”

A helpline and dedicated email address was established for anyone who received a letter and was particularly concerned. A freephone telephone number 0800 023 4377 was also set up and can be called from 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. There is also a dedicated email address: [email protected]

As of Monday, July 26, the helpline had received a total of 996 calls and 75 emails had also been received.

The Trust is also providing psychological support services throughout the course of the review for any patients who might be particularly anxious.

Further details, including frequently asked questions and answers, can be accessed from the front page of the Northern Trust’s website

Breast services have not been impacted and are not part of the review.