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Written Answers. - Loss of Blood Samples.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 323. Mr. Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville  asked the Minister for Health and Children Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  if he will hold an independent inquiry into loss of blood and other samples which belong to persons (details supplied) in County Limerick as discussed in the Adjournment debate in Dáil Éireann on 4 April 2001 in view of new facts regarding the missing substances obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, 1997, which indicate a number of items (details supplied). [24684/02]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Due to concerns raised by the family in question, the chief executive officer of the Mid-Western Health Board set up an internal inquiry into the issue of these missing blood samples. The report of the inquiry group concluded that a combination of errors, both human and of the systems involved, had contributed to the problem. The report made a number of recommendations, including the need for improvements in the receipt, tracking, testing and storage of samples at the pathology laboratory in Limerick Regional Hospital. A copy of the report was provided to the family on 16 March 2001. The Mid-Western Health Board has advised my Department that it is actively pursuing the implementation of all the recommendations contained in the report. Against this background I have no plans to initiate an inquiry on the lines suggested by the Deputy.

At a meeting in November 2001, an undertaking was given to the family concerned, who live in the Askeaton area, to have an independent examination of cancer data relating to the locality. At my Department's request, the National Cancer Registry carried out an examin[1106] ation of such data covering the period 1994-99. This examination was recently completed and presented to the board of the Mid-Western Health Board. It indicates that cancer rates in the Mid-Western Health Board area from 1994-1999 were lower than the national average and that cancer rates in the Askeaton study areas one and two from 1994-99 were lower than the Mid-Western Health Board average and conformed to national and regional patterns by cause. The data as examined by the National Cancer Registry do not support a hypothesis that the incidence of cancer in the Askeaton region is higher than would be expected based on either Mid-Western Health Board or national cancer incidence rates.

Question No. 324 answered with Question No. 304.

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