False machine reading may have led to cancer patient's death

A FAULTY cancer screening machine is at the centre of a legal challenge on the grounds that a false reading may have led to a patient being deprived of effective treatment. Mum-of-one Tracey Kindley, of Preslent Close in Shillington, died on October 28 af

A FAULTY cancer screening machine is at the centre of a legal challenge on the grounds that a false reading may have led to a patient being deprived of effective treatment.

Mum-of-one Tracey Kindley, of Preslent Close in Shillington, died on October 28 after a four-year battle with breast cancer. She was 43.

Now her husband, Angus, has taken up her legal action against the QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, after a diagnostic machine at the hospital gave a false negative reading for oestrogen levels back in 2005 when she was first diagnosed. She only found out about the error following a re-test in 2008.

Mr Kindley said the results effectively denied his wife other forms of hormonal treatment.


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"When she found there had been an error, her first thoughts were for others who might be affected," Mr Kindley said. "That was the sort of woman she was; she was wonderful."

The machine was fixed on May 6, 2005, a month after Mrs Kindley's false reading. It had continued to be used up to that point.

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Mrs Kindley's lawyer Hugh Johnson, from London-based Stewarts Law, said: "Her family remain concerned that a number of patients may be affected by the error and yet have neither been recalled nor their tissue samples retested."

A spokesman for The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs the QEII, said: "The Trust has accepted that a test carried out in 2005 gave a partial false negative result."

The Trust has apologised for the error, but the spokesman said clinical staff are confident no other patients were affected. "Patients who had the same test carried out days either side of Mrs Kindley were reviewed and the results were accurate," he said.

He added: "The pathology laboratory was working to satisfactory standards and the result reported to Mrs Kindley's clinicians was sufficient on which to base treatment choices."

A review is under way into why the machine fault was not reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is responsible for ensuring that hospital equipment works properly.

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