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Irish hospital is castigated for misdiagnosing cancer

A patient with eye cancer was delayed treatment after doctors at an Irish hospital misdiagnosed her condition.

Medics at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin missed the carcinoma — a type of cancer that begins in the skin or in tissue covering body organs.

Fortunately, the patient survived, but the revelation is just one of four cases of misdiagnosis that occurred at the hospital in 2008.

It comes in the wake of last week's exposure that 3,500 letters from GPs seeking referrals for patients were unopened and 58,000 X-rays were not read properly at Tallaght Hospital.

A Freedom of Information request uncovered that in two separate cases a foreign body in the eye was misdiagnosed as an eye infection by medics at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital.

In another case, they missed a rare eye condition. To date, nobody has been disciplined for these mistakes or forced to attend a fitness-to-practise committee of inquiry.

Opposition politicians last night insisted that the matter should be investigated by the health watchdog, the Health Information and Quality Authority. Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan said the number of mistakes was “very serious” and showed the need for increased safety measures.

The latest disclosure relates to six complaints received by the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in 2008.

In a statement, the hospital said no further action was taken in the wake of these incidents.

“None of these cases required further action as defined as any action by way of disciplinary/fitness to practise/clinical sanction,” said a spokeswoman.

The Department of Health said it was confident that procedures and arrangements were in place to address the concerns raised.

But Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan insisted that further investigation was needed. She was joined by Fine Gael TD Dr James Reilly.

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