More than 3800 Southland Hospital mammograms have been
lost in a Southern District Health Board IT failure.
The board said the women's care was unaffected, because
reports written from the mammograms were intact.
The 3850 women were advised by courier letters on Tuesday and
yesterday, and the board has set up an 0800 number.
The mammograms were taken between February 1, 2012, and
October 31, 2012.
Chief executive Carole Heatly said the failure was an IT
server issue, unrelated to the department's longstanding
problems caused by lack of radiologists.
The board became aware of the botch-up in June last year, but
said nothing because it had to go through every patient's
file to try to retrieve data. Some images were retrieved in
Counties Manukau District Health Board, which has been
supporting the unit, was contacted to determine what images
it had saved.
The incident was being treated as a learning experience, and
no disciplinary action would be taken.
''This is about us being open and transparent. We lost some
information details pertaining to patients, and we feel we
have a responsibility to let the patients know that that
University of Otago screening authority Associate Prof Brian
Cox, when contacted, said he believed there would be a small
increase in the number of biopsies performed, notwithstanding
the fact clinical reports had been taken.
This was because initial screens were sometimes referred to,
rather than clinical notes.
However, clinical outcomes would not be affected and biopsy
was a low-level procedure, he said.
Prof Cox said screening programmes handled huge amounts of
The lost mammograms could affect the programme's ability to
audit the service for quality control.
Asked to respond, Ms Heatly said her advice from clinicians
was there would be no change to the women's care.
''I would like to apologise to the 3850 people who received a
mammogram in Southland during this time and whose images have
''The images were lost due to an incorrectly configured
server which failed to back up the copies of the images,
thereby losing them.
''We want to reassure all patients that there is no change in
the outcome from those mammography images. All lost images
had been read by doctors and their reports remain in each
person's clinical file,'' Ms Heatly said.
The board's contract for the national breast-screening
programme is being outsourced, because it is not considered
sustainable, while the diagnostic breast-care service will
The IT loss affected both diagnostic and breast-screen
A National Health Board spokesman said yesterday the
BreastScreen Aotearoa contract was still under negotiation.