Gold Coast x-ray incident raises serious questions about Qld Health checks on patient tests

14 July 2014
Confirmation today that the Gold Coast has a backlog of up to 48,000 unreported x-rays has again reinforced there are systemic issues within Queensland Health when it comes to undertaking patient tests and ensuring proper follow-up, according to Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Maurice Blackburn’s Queensland head of Medical Negligence Sarah Atkinson said that while a further investigation into processes for x-rays on the Gold Coast was welcome, the incident had again exposed serious deficiencies in the health department’s recall and checking mechanisms that were potentially putting patient safety at risk.

“Unfortunately this is not the first time Queensland Health have had to admit to systemic issues when it comes to ensuring patients and specialists are being informed about their test results,” Ms Atkinson said.

“We are currently running cases for Queensland patients, including on the Gold Coast, where this did not happen – where test results were lost or slipped through the cracks, leading to diagnoses not being made until much later.

“This includes where results have been lost between health facilities or treating doctors, through to a lack of recall systems in some instances, where patients or their relevant specialists are not informed of results.

“While it’s welcome that this error has now been detected, this latest incident again raises serious concerns about failures and inconsistencies in Queensland Health’s testing and recall processes to ensure that tests are being appropriately handled and that all relevant people, most importantly the patients themselves, are informed of results during this process.

“Thousands of patients have medical tests done daily through Queensland Health and this needs to continue, but the department also needs to be able to reassure patients that mechanisms are adequate to ensure patient safety is not compromised,” she said.

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