Hundreds of Jersey rheumatology patients may have been wrongly diagnosed or treated

An audit has revealed hundreds of rheumatology patients may not have met the criteria for the treatment they were given. Credit: ITV Channel

Hundreds of Jersey patients have been told they may have been given the wrong diagnosis or treatment, following an audit of patient records.

It was recommended following an investigation into the island's rheumatology service by the Royal College of Physicians.

The treatment and diagnoses of 341 rheumatology patients have been audited after they were prescribed drugs called "biologics".

The review found that more than half of the patients prescribed the drugs should not have been, as they did not meet the medical criteria for biologic treatment.

It also found around a third of patients diagnosed with a rheumatological condition in Jersey may not have been correctly diagnosed.

Jersey's health department says the affected patients have since been seen by "a new team of professionally trained, qualified rheumatologists" and a number of them have been taken off biologic therapy.

It says the audit results "do not necessarily mean patients were misdiagnosed" as some may have been correctly treated but poor record-keeping meant there was no recorded reason for the treatment being given.

The department's medical director, Patrick Armstrong, admitted there had been failings within the service: "This audit clearly indicates that some of our rheumatology patients on biologic drugs may not have been properly diagnosed or properly treated in the period before January 2022.

"I am satisfied that in recent months these patients have been reviewed by specialist rheumatologists, but the audit suggests we now need to review the care and treatment of a wider group of patients including our other rheumatology patients. We will be doing this as quickly as possible."

He added the department will be starting the wider review "immediately" and any affected patients will be contacted.

Jersey's Health Minister, Deputy Karen Wilson, said: "The initial findings from this audit highlight some serious problems in the rheumatology service and it is clear these underlying issues may extend into other parts of HCS.

"As I have said previously – and as this audit indicates – we have fallen behind “best practice” in a number of areas and we now need to redouble our efforts to strengthen clinical governance and quality of care within HCS."

Christopher Bown, Interim Chief Officer for Health and Community Services said: “In the interests of openness and transparency we can confirm that the review involves the practice and record keeping of just two doctors in the period before January 2022. 

"Neither of the doctors were locums, and they are no longer undertaking clinical work with HCS. 

“We will now be reviewing the notes of all the rheumatology patients seen by these doctors, and since they also treated a number of non-rheumatology patients we will be reviewing the notes of these patients too. 

“I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the rheumatologists who have joined our rheumatology team in recent months.”

A final report from the Royal College of Physicians is due to be published in the autumn.

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