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Two Women Had Their Cancer 'Misdiagnosed' At St James's Hospital

By Darragh Berry

February 20, 2018 at 11:50am

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As part of an RTÉ Investigates programme which will air on Tuesday, 20th February at 9:35pm, a report has found that two women had their cancer misdiagnosed in St. James's Hospital. 

Alison McCormack was diagnosed with a certain type of breast cancer in 2010, that was said to be curable with surgery.

She was not prescribed chemotherapy or any other treatment as DCIS is a non-invasive cancer.

However, two years later, she was diagnosed with DCIS for a second time, this time in her lymph nodes and neck. 

Both Alison and the consultant were shocked that the cancer had returned and in 2013, she requested a meeting at the hospital to discuss questions she had over the case. 

She was informed she was misdiagnosed and was given a written report into the missed diagnosis.

The hospital stated the mistake could have been made by any pathologist and a review of 39 cases from 2010 were conducted.

It was found that Alison's DCIS case and another woman's had been misdiagnosed by the hospital. 

In a statement issued to The Irish Independent, RTÉ said on the matter that: 

"The review highlighted that identification of subtle foci of invasive carcinoma within in situ carcinoma is a difficult diagnostic area that challenged both the individual pathologist and the wider pathologist group. The pathology conclusion is that this error could equally have been made by any other competent pathologist and does not represent incompetency on the part of the individual pathologist or a departmental systems failure," the hospital said.

"On the basis of the contents of the report it is the view of St. James’s Hospital that any further review of the remainder of the pathologist’s work is not warranted. No evidence of further missed diagnoses has arisen in the nearly eight years since the error occurred.

"St  James’s Hospital is committed to providing safe and effective care and treatment to all our patients. As a designated Cancer Centre the hospital works closely with the National Cancer Control Programme and the Health Service Executive to ensure quality assurance and patient safety."

In relation to the second woman whose diagnosis was missed St James' Hospital confirmed that "all relevant elements of the patients care were discussed with her at the time of diagnosis and eight years later the patient remains in normal active clinical review".

'Under the Microscope' airs on Tuesday night as part of a Prime Time, RTÉ Investigates.

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