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CT waits - Tallaght fears another scandal
[Posted: Thu 20/01/2011 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Medical staff are concerned that a 13-month waiting list for CT scans at Dublin's Tallaght Hospital could lead to another delayed diagnosis scandal.
irishhealth.com understands that the current waiting time for a routine outpatient CT scan at Tallaght is over a year, but medical sources say it can take up to six months for urgent cases to get a CT scan, although the official waiting time for urgent case should be six weeks.
However, a hospital spokesperson told irishhealth.com that urgent CT scans were being done "within a short timeframe."
According to hospital medical sources, if an urgent scan is needed, patients are sometimes admitted in order to get it performed.
The hospital currently has two CT scanners, but only one of them is operational.
Asked why only one CT scanner was in use, the hospital said: "the power supply in the hospital was not in a position to run two CT scanners. This has been rectified and both CT scaners will be operational in the near future."
According to medical sources at the hospital, patients who see a consultant at outpatients and then need a CT scan deemed routine must currently wait 13 months for that scan.
One consultant told irishhealth.com that some of these patients might have cancer and there were concerns about another scandal, in the wake of the recent unreported x-rays and delayed diagnosis controversy.
He claimed the second CT scan was not operational due to lack of staffing and resources from the HSE.
Tallaght Hospital would not confirm or deny whether its CT scan waiting list stretched to 13 months.
It said this waiting list was "currently being validated."
The spokeswoman said at the moment, appointments were booked onto the system for patients whom it was known would require routine scans and would require them in time over the course of their treatment, and one such example would be cancer patients.
"Their scans are booked onto the system because we know they will require them at regular intervals - they are, however, not currently awaiting that scan. At present it is not possible to distinguish these types of appointments on the system."
According to the HSE's latest hospital performance statistics, Tallaght has the longest wait of the six major Dublin hospitals for routine CT scans. The statistics show that the consultant-to-hospital referral wait for a routine CT is 200 days; however as this is the maximum limit given on the HSE tables, the actual wait is understood to be much longer, as the Tallaght CT waits appear to be "off the scale."
The HSE's official target for waiting times for routine CTs is 70 days. The CT waits at other Dublin hospitals are within that timeframe, according to the HSE statistics.
The HSE stats also indicate that Tallaght's waiting time for non-urgent MRI scans may be nearly as long as the wait for CT scans.
Tallaght medical sources say that while efforts will be made to ensure that cases marked urgent would get scans as soon as possible, there would always be concerns that "routine" case could turn out to be urgent, as patients could have more serious conditions that were not immediately apparent before referral for a scan.
Since the introduction of the new consultant contract in 2008, most hospitals operate a common public/private waiting list for diagnostic tests, and private patients cannot "skip the queue" in a public hospital.
However, it is understood the majority of those on waiting lists for tests at Tallaght are public patients, as private patients faced with a long waiting lists can opt to go privately and get the test done more quickly elsewhere.
It was revealed last March that nearly 58,000 x-rays had been left unreported by consultant radiologists at Tallaght and that there had been two delayed diagnoses as a result of hold-ups in reporting. The backlog has since been cleared.
The Hayes review which reported on the Tallaght scandal last November called for two additional radiologist posts to be filled as a matter of urgency. It said new posts were vital to help prevent a recurrence of the x-ray backlog.
The hospital told irishhealth.com that interviews for two additional consultant radiologist posts were taking place this month.
However, according to the Hayes report, these posts were approved by the local HSE office in February of last year. The hospital has recently been employing locum consultant radiologists to deal with its x-ray workload.
See also:'HSE knew of Tallaght x-ray backlog'
|Anonymous Posted: 24/01/2011 10:55|
13 months for a ct scan?!!!!!! Yet a private clinic can have them done in 3 weeks.
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