Response to lost mammograms 'perturbs'

A women's health consumer group says the loss of more than 3800 mammograms is more serious than the Southern District Health Board has acknowledged.

The board admitted last month it discovered it lost 3850 Southland Hospital images in the middle of last year, and said nothing for seven months. Because the images had been read, there was no clinical risk, the health board maintained.

Federation of Women's Health Councils co-convener Barbara Robson, of Feilding, who is also a MidCentral District Health Board member, did not accept there was no impact from the IT failure.

''While we acknowledge all the images had been read by doctors and their reports remain in the women's clinical files and that there was no immediate clinical risk to these women, we have been perturbed by the lack of comment from [the health board] about the impact of the loss of those images from a programme-quality perspective.''

National screening guidelines said images were kept in case they needed to be referred to again.

''So it may be, in subsequent screening rounds, those women whose images have been lost will be disadvantaged,'' Ms Robson said.

Affected women should have been told about the issue.

''The [federation] is also concerned that the programme's ability to retrospectively review/audit the quality of radiologists' reporting is compromised to some extent,'' she said.

Health board women's, children's and public health medical director Dr Marion Poore, in a written statement, said clinicians had the written reports to use for comparison.

There was a ''small chance'' women would need additional testing at their next screening.

Dr Poore released the letter the health board sent to the affected women. It did not tell them of the possibility of further testing.

''The letters we sent stated that those concerned should contact the hospital to discuss their options.

''We have not had many calls regarding this, but when we do, our staff explain the course of action women can take to be screened again,'' Dr Poore said.

Information had also been sent to Gps.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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