Biopsy error panel terms out

The panel considering biopsy errors in laboratories has released its terms of reference.

The terms said the national panel to review breast biopsy errors would identify the safeguards now preventing specimens or results being swapped, as well as those reducing the risk of biopsy interpretation error, and consider whether standards were consistent across New Zealand and processes were best practice.

The panel would also assess the impact of errors on women and providers and what, if anything, needed to be done to improve quality.

The inquiry was launched after revelations three women had mastectomies after incorrect diagnoses, including one this year in Dunedin when two breast biopsy specimens were swapped.

It was also revealed a woman had part of her jaw cut away after a specimen mix-up at the University of Otago Dental Hospital in Dunedin.

The terms of reference, released to the Otago Daily Times, said panel members were selected for their expertise, rather than as representatives of their organisations.

Ministry of Health chief medical officer Dr Don Mackie is chairman of the 10-member expert panel, which includes a senior consultant pathologist and clinical director of South Australia's breast-screening programme, Associate Prof Gelareh Farshid.

Meetings were conducted both face to face and by tele-link.

The panel's report is expected by the end of next month.


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