Following a recent Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection at Kings Mill Hospital in Nottinghamshire, it was found that a number of breast cancer patients were given faulty test results. The CQC’s report, which was published jointly with the Royal College of Pathologists, looked at concerns that the treatment of breast cancer patients between 2004 and 2011 was based on incorrect test results. The investigation began after 79 women with breast cancer were recalled due to issues with interpretation of their test results. It found that 120 women could have been given the wrong test results between 2004 and 2011, meaning they were potentially denied the best treatment.

The issues relate to an oestrogen receptor test which detects whether patients would benefit from hormone treatment for their cancer. The women affected by these issues have been contacted directly by the hospital and clinics have been arranged to enable them to discuss their concerns.

Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Solicitors LLP said: “The recent findings in relation to Kings Mill Hospital seem to follow a pattern that we have noted in the last few years. Excellent systems are put in place for breast cancer screening and breast cancer care but these are falling down either because of individual doctors not following standard guidance or issues with interpretation of test results.

“We currently have a number of cases involving patients who were not referred for investigation of breast lumps when they should have been as well as patients who had abnormalities shown on radiology or test results which were not picked up and acted upon. With the public awareness campaign to encourage women to check for and report breast lumps, it is essential that the systems work to ensure that women who are investigated for lumps receive the right advice. Hopefully, the CQC investigation in this case will ensure that similar failings do not occur elsewhere.”