HSE Welcomes Publication of HIQA Report

April 2 2008

The Health Service Executive (HSE) today welcomed the publication of the Report by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on the investigation into circumstances surrounding the provision of care to Rebecca O'Malley.

The HSE would again like to apologise to Rebecca O'Malley and her family for the distress caused.

The HSE accepts the report's 15 recommendations which relate to clinical and process issues, a number of which have already been implemented and others are in the process of being implemented. Their implementation will be overseen by the National Director of the National Hospitals Office working closely with the Director of the Cancer Control Programme.

In May 2007, the HSE requested HIQA to undertake this investigation to answer a number of critical questions. This was so that Rebecca O'Malley's concerns could be addressed and the HSE could learn from the incident to identify how the possibility of a similar incident occurring could be minimised.

The investigation found that a Consultant Pathologist at the Cytopathology Department at Cork University Hospital made an error in diagnosis in 2005 in relation to Mrs Rebecca O'Malley's FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) cytopathology specimen. The Consultant Pathologist identified fibroadenoma - a benign condition.

The investigation team carried out a review of the work conducted by this Consultant Pathologist while employed at Cork University Hospital and found the Consultant Pathologist did not make any other errors. There was no evidence identified of a wider concern about the Consultant's practice.

Following Rebecca O'Malley's diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer during 2006, she requested a review of her original 2005 tests to ensure that if an error in her original diagnosis had occurred other patients would be protected.

It took five months for a review of Rebecca O'Malley's cytopathology specimen to be completed and the results communicated to her.

A significant factor in the HSE's decision to request HIQA to undertake an investigation was this unexplained five month delay in a process which might reasonably have been carried out over a two week period.

The HSE is therefore disappointed that the investigation did not establish the specific reasons for the five month delay.

The HSE acknowledges that the issues raised in this report may cause concern for current or former patients of Limerick Regional or Cork University Hospital. The HSE has set up telephone lines for women or their families who may have concerns or questions about their care at these hospitals. Calls will be answered by customer care staff who will arrange contact and follow up with the Breast Clinic staff in each hospital.

The phone numbers for patient enquiries are:

Limerick: 061483286 and 061483287
9.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday

Cork: 1850 742 000
9am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm Monday to Friday

For general enquiries about HSE services or cancer support services, the public can call the HSE infoline 1850 24 1850, 8am-8pm, Monday to Saturday.


Last updated on: 02 / 04 / 2008