Concerns over a hospital’s cancer screening process have been raised, with hundreds of patients treated over a four-year period being offered new rescreening.
Concerns over a hospital’s cancer screening process have been raised, with hundreds of patients treated over a four-year period being offered new rescreening.

Hospital hit by new cancer screening bungle

QUEENSLAND Health will offer renewed cancer screening to 760 patients who had "scopes" at Redland Hospital between 2008 and 2012 after concerns emerged about the "thoroughness" of a doctor who retired more than five years ago.

It's the second time this year issues have been raised involving doctors at Redland Hospital performing colonoscopies and endoscopies, procedures known medically as "scopes".

Earlier this month, an investigation was announced into another doctor, who has been banned from performing scopes since September 2018. Queensland Health has started rescoping about 1000 of that surgeon's patients, dating back to 2012.

Redland Hospital, where concerns have emerged about the “thoroughness” of two surgeons performing scopes. Picture: Annette Dew
Redland Hospital, where concerns have emerged about the “thoroughness” of two surgeons performing scopes. Picture: Annette Dew

In the latest case to come to light, the Courier-Mail understands 380 of a former surgeon's patients who were screened between 2012 and 2014 were offered new procedures when issues were raised in 2014 involving one of his scopes.

Of those, about 260 people had repeat scopes in 2014 and 2015, including one who was found to have cancer. That patient has since recovered and the surgeon involved retired in August, 2014.

It's unclear whether the Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg or the past Metro South Hospital and Health Service board were informed about the issue, which was never made public.

But after the case came to the new board's attention recently, and a clinical incident review team assessed it, Queensland Health's newly appointed Director-General John Wakefield accepted advice to offer repeat procedures to patients dating back to 2008.

"This is about doing the right thing by our patients," Dr Wakefield said.

Queensland Health Director-General Dr John Wakefield. Picture: Peter Wallis
Queensland Health Director-General Dr John Wakefield. Picture: Peter Wallis

"These are historic cases, this surgeon hasn't worked for us for almost six years. Clinically, the risk isn't very significant but we're treating this issue with an abundance of caution.

"I have to emphasise that although this is a long time ago, it's important we are open and transparent.

"Part of our job is ensuring the system is accountable and patients can have faith in the care we provide."

Contact with the 760 patients treated between 2008 and 2012 will begin "in coming weeks".

Further assessment of the retired surgeon's patients was being undertaken by Metro South HHS, a Queensland Health spokesman said.

"Details of any potentially affected patients from before 2008 are still being assessed," he said. "However, given this is more than a decade ago, a number of these patients may very well have already been rescoped for a range of other reasons."

The department spokesman said no existing Queensland patients would have to wait longer for scopes because of the latest rescreening procedures.

He said an investigation announced earlier this month would be broadened to include improvements to statewide monitoring of clinical care outcomes, given the latest Redland Hospital scope issues.

Queensland Health is yet to announce the investigation's terms of reference or who will head it.

Palaszczuk Government Health Minister Steven Miles has pledged to make the investigation's findings public.



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