About 1500 patients may have had signs of early colorectal cancer missed by substandard endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures undertaken by a doctor at Redland Hospital, Brisbane, according to Queensland Health.
The practitioner, who has not been named, has been suspended from performing colonoscopies pending a review while patients are being recalled for repeat procedures, according to a statement released on 8 January by the Metro South Hospital and Health Service.
Queensland Health said it had been notified in December 2019 about concerns regarding the colonoscopies undertaken by the doctor, initially noted 15 months earlier in September 2018. By Metro South.
“Initially there was a concern raised by another practitioner who identified a patient as having a bowel lesion that they wouldn’t have expected to see after a previous screening colonoscopy,” said Queensland Health director-general Dr John Wakefield.
“As a consequence of that, investigation was done on cases, which subsequently provided some level of concern about the thoroughness of the practice of that doctor.”
In its statement, Metro South said: “it appears this doctor may have missed early clinical signs of disease during some of these endoscopies and colonoscopies.”
“Upon learning this, Metro South immediately suspended the doctor from undertaking these procedures and referred the matter to the Office of the Health Ombudsman who referred the matter to AHPRA, the national regulator.
A review of medical records identified about 1500 patients who had endoscopy procedures by the doctor between 2012 to 2018. Metro South said patients who were identified as high risk have already had their repeat procedures performed by different clinicians.
“Including the high risk patients, 450 people have already had a repeat procedure, and of these, 14 patients were found to have early interval or missed cancers and others with unexpected significant pathology.”
“We are currently contacting the rest of our patients and recommending a repeat screening procedure. The bulk of these re-screenings should be complete by March. “
According to media reports, the Australian-trained surgeon is currently on leave and works at the Redland and Logan hospitals in south-east Queensland and also at one hospital in New South Wales.
Dr Wakefield told the ABC there were concerns about the length of time – 15 months – it took for senior health officials to be notified.
“The focus right now is on making sure we do everything possible for the patients, and the answer to that question and to other questions will be a significant focus of the investigation, and in due course the facts will be identified,” he said.