Cancer scandal hospital made 'normal' level of mistakes

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Mistakes in diagnosing cancer at a hospital at the centre of one of Britain's worst cervical screening scandals were "within the expected range" of error, according to a report published today.

Mistakes in diagnosing cancer at a hospital at the centre of one of Britain's worst cervical screening scandals were "within the expected range" of error, according to a report published today.

But seven patients were misdiagnosed by laboratory experts in mistakes which may have put their lives at risk.

One expert has been ordered to undergo retraining and his diagnosis rates are being subjected to an internal audit following the report.

The review of histopathology services at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital by the Royal College of Pathologists has concluded that mistakes in diagnosing cancer were not greater than the accepted norm.

The report focused on laboratory diagnostic services at the hospital and experts from the college looked at 2,621 patient histories.

It identified seven cases where "diagnostic discrepancies" had "a definite influence on clinical outcome".

A further 35 cases were defined as "diagnostic misrepresentation" or "oversights" which could have affected the way people were treated.

All these cases are now the subject of a clinical review by the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.

The college said: "On the basis of comparison with available published data the error rate was within the expected range and, thus, there is no indication to carry out a further external retrospective review."

The review of all cancer diagnosis services was ordered following a damning report into cervical screening at the same hospital laboratory.

Mistakes in the screening service led to the deaths of eight women, forced 30 to undergo hysterectomies and hundreds more had to face treatment for missed cancers.

More than 90,000 slides were retested and three women have already won a court case claiming that their cancers should have been spotted.

A report into cervical screening blamed staff shortages, poor training, low morale and the failure of doctors to respond to warning signs about poor quality work at the laboratory.

The Kent and Canterbury Hospital laboratory has now been closed and the service moved to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

Hospital bosses were holding a press conference later this morning to respond to the long awaited report.

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