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Patients recalled for scans after supervision error

24/11/2019, 17:38

MORE than 100 patients are being recalled for ultrasound scans after a safety blunder.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust bosses are getting at least 118 scans redone after they were carried out by a trainee sonographer who was not being properly supervised.

The problem with the scans, carried out by a private contractor, came to light this week after the Lancashire Telegraph was tipped off by a concerned whistleblower.

Julie Iddon, associate medical director for quality and safety at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “A recent review of work undertaken by an external company that we use to support our ultrasound services identified that a number of ultrasound scans were performed by a trainee sonographer, without the appropriate level of senior professional supervision.

This does not meet with our high imaging standards.

“Although it is very unlikely that any omissions or errors have been made, as a precaution we are in the process of recalling the patients affected for another scan with an experienced sonographer.

“We have undertaken a full investigation in order to understand exactly how this happened.

“We would like to express our sincere apologies for any inconvenience or concern caused to patients.”

The trust revealed the scans were carried out by an outsourced company under an NHS contract, and were carried out on the firm's premises, not at an East Lancashire hospital or health centre.

However those who underwent scans are all NHS patients.

Sonography is a medical procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves, known as ultrasound, to produce images of organs, tissues or blood flow inside the body.

The email confirming an investigation was taking place, which was leaked to the Lancashire Telegraph, was sent out by Julie White, the clinical lead for ultrasound at the trust.

The email said: “At the end of September, it came to light that an outsourcing company used by the trust’s partner provider to support ultrasound services, has not delivered care to the standards we require.

“The trust is involved in the investigation of this serous event along with the Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS England and the Health and Care Professions Council.

“As part of the process the current review has identified at least 118 patients who need to be recalled for rescan within November.

“As you can appreciate this will involve a lot of time and additional workload as we investigate the event and we would appreciate your support at this time.”

A Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group spokesman said: “The CCG is aware of the investigation.

“It would not be appropriate for us to add anything.”

Cllr Damian Talbot, executive member for public health and wellbeing for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “It is worrying that this kind of mistake has happened.

“I would hope the trust will be looking to improve their precautions in making sure those doing the procedures are qualified, so this type of incident does not happen again.

“These are important scans and they need to be right.

“They need to be right so mothers and families can make the appropriate plans.

Russ McLean, chairman of the Patients Voices group, said he would speak to the chief executive of the trust about this issue.

He said: “First of all this is very disturbing.

"We are living in an age where this should not be happening."


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