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Cancer doctor at fault over scans

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February 2, 2007

A doctor was to blame for misreading the breast cancer scan results of 28 women - one of whom has since died from the disease, a report reveals.

The NHS-commissioned report shows consultant radiologist Amjad Husien's wrong all-clear diagnoses led to a review of nearly 2,500 mammograms.

It also criticised procedures at Trafford NHS Trust, one of two Greater Manchester trusts he worked for.

Mr Husien is currently the subject of a General Medical Council investigation.

Report author Professor Mark Baker blamed Mr Husien, named as "Dr A" in the report, for the errors saying his work "almost immediately" aroused suspicion.

It is difficult to draw conclusions about the origin of Dr A's clinical failures
Professor Mark Baker, NHS North West report author

"Some indicators suggest that he made extraordinary errors and used extravagant suggestions for the cause of image findings," he said.

"I conclude that the precipitating cause of the misreading of the mammograms was the personal failure of a radiologist."

He added that Mr Husien worked single-handed in Trafford and did not have colleagues routinely double or triple reporting his findings, as had happened at previous hospitals.

The report said errors could have been spotted earlier if a clinical audit of Mr Husien's work had been ordered after his colleagues raised concerns in November 2003.

"It is difficult to draw conclusions about the origin of Dr A's clinical failures," said Prof Barker.

"It is unlikely, but not impossible, that they coincided with his appointment to Trafford Healthcare Trust."

'Significantly worsened'

Mr Husien joined Trafford Healthcare Trust in April 2003 from Stockport and began working additional shifts on a locum basis for North Manchester Hospital in January 2004.

Of the 28 women wrongly given the all-clear, 18 were told that because the delay in spotting the error was more than three months, their chances of surviving were "significantly" worsened. One of the women later died.

Dr Simon Musgrave, medical director of Trafford Healthcare Trust, said that due to patient confidentiality rules, the trust would not reveal details regarding the condition of the 17 other women affected.

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