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Bungled radiology diagnoses

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 05:47 PM

Huge payouts for people whose health worsened after bungled diagnoses


Last updated 09:24, August 10 2015

Taranaki woman Judith Holswich is dying of lung cancer after a radiologist failed to act on an abnormal scan, which delayed her diagnosis for three years.

Nearly 1000 people have received ACC payouts for bungled radiology diagnoses in the past 10 years, including some who became terminally ill as a result.

Figures released under the Official Information Act show ACC paid $9.3 million for 969 claims from July 1, 2005, to December 31, 2014. They also show annual claims have more than doubled since 2006, and payouts have nearly quadrupled.

The cases include Taranaki woman Judith Holswich, who is now dying of lung cancer after a radiologist failed to follow up on an abnormal scan, which delayed her diagnosis for three years.

On Thursday, she returned to her Waitara home after eight days at Hospice Taranaki, her second stay there in the past three weeks.

"When it does eventually happen, I want to die in my own home," the 55-year-old said.

"If they [radiologists] had done their job correctly, I wouldn't be in this situation."

Holswich was awarded more than $100,000 from ACC in April, but others are still fighting.

An Auckland woman's seven-year legal battle for compensation is yet to be resolved after her daughter was born was spina bifida in 2007. Doctors had missed signs of the birth defect during a 20-week antenatal scan.

The woman told the Court of Appeal in 2013 that she would have sought to terminate her pregnancy if the condition had been diagnosed at the scan.

Mammography was singled out as the most fraught procedure during the past decade, with 125 ACC claims for various injuries, including bruising, joint injuries, plus strains and sprains. CT scans were the second highest source of claims.

In the 10-year period, ACC accepted claims from 32 people for "treatment omission", which included a delay or failure to treat someone, such as when a radiologist failed to diagnose a condition that showed up on imaging.

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists' New Zealand branch chairman Lance Lawler said such cases were "a doctor's worst nightmare", but mistakes were unavoidable because of human error.

"I don't think you will ever stop these events happening ... Good people make honest mistakes sometimes."

However, he said more sophisticated auditing and peer review requirements were being introduced across the medical profession, including radiology, to try to reduce the chance of mistakes.

Lawler, a Wellington-based radiologist, estimated about 3 million radiology scans were done in New Zealand annually, suggesting about 30 million over the decade.

"That means 30 [treatment omission] cases out of 30 million. But we don't want any mistakes, and we don't want anyone to suffer."

Of the $9.3m paid out by ACC, $5.9m was paid for compensation, and the rest was for treatment and rehabilitation. Last year, $1.2m was paid in compensation.

People suffering permanent injuries from treatment, including radiology scans, can claim lump-sum compensation of up to $133,000, depending on their level of impairment.

An ACC spokeswoman said the largest payouts went to those who had suffered more than 80 per cent impairment, including those who were terminally ill.

Capital & Coast District Health Board had 58 radiology treatment injury claims in the past decade, including 12 last year, and had the third highest claim rate after Auckland and Canterbury districts.


Judith Holswich dons oxygen constantly to help her breathe, but life is becoming an increasing struggle.

The 55-year-old from Waitara is dying of lung cancer, which was left to progress unchecked for three years after a radiologist failed to act on her abnormal CT scan.

The ex-smoker, who quit about 15 years ago, was working as a mental health support worker when she noticed in 2010 that she was short of breath when walking up people's drives for home visits.

She visited her GP, who sent her for a CT scan. The results showed a shadow on her right lung, but the radiologist said that was common for ex-smokers and was nothing to worry about.

"I have never had cancer before, so I took his word for it," she said.

It's a decision she now regrets, and wishes she had sought a second opinion.

With her breathing becoming so laboured that she had to give up work, along with plans to sit her mental health certificate.

She went back to her GP in 2013 and was sent for a repeat CT scan, which diagnosed lung cancer.

In the intervening three years, it had spread into lymph glands in her chest and neck, and was terminal.

"Back in 2010, I could have had the tumour removed from my lung. Now it's too late."

While trying to stay positive for the sake of husband David and the eight children they share between them, Holswich said she was angry that the radiologist's failures would rob her of life.

"People ask me how I feel. I don't know how I feel. Really annoyed, more than anything.

"If they had done their job right, I wouldn't be here now."

Fulford Radiology Services, which was contracted to do radiology tests for Taranaki District Health Board, has begun an audit of all the work by the radiologist who missed Holswich's cancer, covering a period from 2008-12.

Fulford board chairwoman Flora Gilkison said the radiologist, who died in 2012, had an excellent reputation and his early intervention work saved many Taranaki people's arms and legs from amputation.

"Every clinician has mistakes."

She was "desperately sorry" for the impact of the error on Holswich. "It's a tragedy for her."

- Stuff

#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 05:56 PM

We would like to know why radiologists still insist on trying to tell patients that they need to have either Gadolinium or Buscapan prior to having MRI scans when the most modern age equipment is been used?

As a comparison it's a well known fact that mobile phones can and do indeed take very clear images so why has no "scientific data" been undertaken to see if there is still a need to subject people to what is an unnecessary process when having an MRI scan?

It's time for a change in mindset by some of those that have been in the Radiology field to come up to modern day services and practices.

Why also are patients not been provided with a copy of these MRI scans on a USB disk or other format for there own records and perusal?

We find it unbelievable in today's day and age that Medical Clinicians merely provide a basic written at times scantly detailed report and do not even have access on there electronic devices to show patients images taken of their own bodies.


#3 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 12 February 2016 - 04:01 PM

New MRI scanner in New Plymouth expected to cut wait times by months


Last updated 20:56, February 10 2016

Waiting months for an MRI scan should be a thing of the past in Taranaki with the arrival of a second scanning machine.

Taranaki Radiology installed a new German made MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine at its Vivian St
premises on Wednesday morning.

ACC branch manager New Plymouth Janet Tinson said about 25 per cent of Taranaki people currently needing an MRI were being sent outside the region to Palmerston North and Auckland.

She said it was also common for patients to be waiting for two or three months, but having a second machine in the region would cut that down to two weeks, and possibly less than a week for urgent patients.

* Fulford Radiology split will shorten wait times
* Taranaki DHB confirms purchase of Fulford Radiology
* Striking Taranaki radiographers suspended by Fulford Radiology

"It's going to be a huge plus for the community and I think the orthopedic specialists will hugely benefit from the result they get back from these guys - better imaging," she said.

"And that's just got to be better for the people of Taranaki."

Taranaki Radiology owner Dr Alina Leigh said the new MRI would provide better images, which would make diagnosis easier.
"It's the best that you can get," she said. "It gives much more detailed images and it's also bigger so it'll fit our larger patients as well and people will feel more comfortable in the machine."

The MRI, which weighs eight tonnes, was lifted by crane off a truck before being pulled into a specially built room.

It will be installed on top of a metre of specially reinforced concrete and the walls of the room are lined with copper to contain and keep out radio frequencies, which can interfere with scans.

MRI scans can be used to help diagnose such things as brain tumours, musculoskeletal problems, spinal conditions or injuries, prostate issues and heart abnormalities.

- Stuff

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