Hospital to retake 900 mammograms due to employee error

A Georgia hospital is offering to retake more than 900 mammograms after it was discovered that an employee had marked the tests complete even though they had not been read by a radiologist.

The tests were performed from 2009 into early this year at Perry Hospital in Perry, GA, a 45-bed facility in the Houston Hospital provider network. On April 2, the hospital discovered a discrepancy during a quality check of mammography exams and began a broader quality review.

The review found that a radiology employee had processed a number of mammography studies without obtaining a reading of the tests by a radiologist, according to Victor Moldovan, attorney for Houston Healthcare.

"Perry Hospital [staff] learned of the problem while doing a routine quality check," Moldovan told "The staff found a discrepancy in a mammography record -- a scan showed that a particular doctor had signed off on it, but that doctor had been out of the office at the time."

The employee used the doctor's computer identification to log into the facility's mammography information system and issue final reports, according to Moldovan. The employee's motivation is unclear.

"The employee has given an explanation to the hospital [for the behavior], but that explanation is not being made public," Moldovan said.

The films are in the process of being read, or reread, as the case may be, Moldovan said. Perry Hospital also has contacted all the women by phone or through the mail, offering each an opportunity to have another mammogram.

"We recalled 900 patients, just to be cautious, although we think the number of mammograms that need to be redone is a lot smaller than that," he said.

Moldovan could not say whether any cancer had been found in the 900 recalled mammograms. The hospital is not defining the situation as a Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) violation, he said.

"We don't think this violates MQSA standards," he said. He added that the employee has been terminated.

In a statement released May 10, the hospital apologized to its patients.

"We at Perry Hospital and Houston Healthcare sincerely apologize for and regret that the actions of one of our employees caused our patients inconvenience or concern," it said.

By Kate Madden Yee staff writer
May 12, 2010

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Suspended Canadian radiologist: 'This is a modern-day lynching,' July 30, 2009

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Web site solicits patients for cases of radiology errors, May 27, 2008

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