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Independent inquiry into Ennis General announced
[Posted: Wed 24/09/2008 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
The Minister for Health, Mary Harney, has bowed to increasing public concern and has announced an independent review of services at Ennis General Hospital.
The Minister has asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to examine the operation of services at the hospital, including issues relating to the diagnosis and treatment of patients and the approach to communications within the facility.
Ms Harney has come under increasing pressure in recent days to announce such a review, following two recently confirmed cases of breast cancer misdiagnosis at Ennis General.
Earlier this month, Karl Henry revealed that his wife, Ann Moriarty (53), died in April of this year having been given the all-clear twice by the hospital last summer.
In recent days, the family of Edel Kelly (26), who died in June after being misdiagnosed, also chose to go public. They explained that their decision to do so was prompted by the HSE’s response to Mr Henry. They said that they were dismayed that the HSE had described his wife’s case as an isolated incident.
Just yesterday, HSE chief executive, Prof Brendan Drumm, confirmed that a third case of misdiagnosis was now also likely to emerge.
In the case of Ann Moriarty, the HSE, despite its own reports being strongly critical of her care at Ennis, told Karl Henry, that an independent investigation was not warranted.
Mr Henry wanted the independent inquiry to look at the issue of whether other patients had been misdiagnosed at Ennis.
The HSE said its decision not to refer the case for further investigation was also based on consultations it made with the Faculty of Radiology and consultants at University Hospital Galway, after carrying out its own internal investigation.
This is despite the fact that the report from the Galway consultants was also highly critical of system failures in Ann Moriarty's care. Since then, two further misdiagnosis cases have emerged.
According to Minister Harney, the exact terms of reference of the independent inquiry will be finalised shortly; however she has asked that the review be completed within three months.
“We must learn from the tragic experiences of Anne Moriarty and Edel Kelly. I am confident that HIQA’s report will help us ensure that our services meet the standards which all our patients are entitled to expect,” she said.
Meanwhile arrangements are being put in place by the HSE for patients who attended hospital breast clinics in the last two years and who did not have a diagnosis of cancer, but who have concerns in light of recent events.
It is putting in place a specific referral process for these patients and has advised anyone with concerns to contact their GP.
The Minister said while there is every reason to believe that the vast majority of women have received the correct and appropriate assessment, the HSE is offering patients the option of a specialised re-referral service following discussion with their GP.
Commenting on the inquiry, HIQA chief executive, Dr Tracey Cooper, explained that it is being carried out ‘to ascertain the quality and safety of the services provided at Ennis General Hospital’.
She added that HIQA would be working closely with the HSE, Ennis General and the Minister for Health ‘to ensure that the investigation will result in a comprehensive report with recommendations that will apply to hospitals throughout Ireland’.
The Minister's announcement did not refer to concerns expressed about Ms Moriarty's assessment at Dublin's St James's Hospital, where she was given an all-clear in April 2007, and where the relevant mammogram subsequently went missing.
For other articles on the Ennis cancer misdiagnosis issue, click on...
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