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Hospital admits cancer errors

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Administrative errors at a hospital led to 17 patients being given the all-clear – only to be told later that they still had cancer.

Hereford Hospitals NHS Trust announced in February that samples examined between May 2006 and August 2007, from 4,654 patients, needed re-examining after mistakes were discovered.

The re-examination followed indications of possible errors in the examination of tissue samples by one histopathologist consultant, who has since been suspended.

The investigation has revealed 17 patients were wrongly given the all-clear and 14 patients were told they had cancer when they did not, some of whom underwent radiotherapy.

A further 40 patients were recalled and told their conditions were worse than originally thought and 62 people were told their illnesses were less serious. 102 patients in total had to be recalled, with 70 patients requiring a change in treatment.

In total, 5404 samples were sent for re-examination by an independent external laboratory. These samples included biopsies, surgical specimens and cytology (cell) samples.

Martin Woodford, Chief Executive of Hereford Hospitals NHS Trust, said: ‘Now that the review is complete I would, once again, like to apologise personally and on behalf of the Trust, to all patients affected by this regrettable situation, in particular to those who had received an inaccurate diagnosis.’

He added: ‘I can confirm that 17 patients were initially informed, incorrectly, that they did not have a malignancy such as cancer.’

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