By staff writers

August 4, 2017 -- Thousands of medical imaging scans in the Republic of Ireland may have to be repeated due to a computer glitch in the country's health system network, according to an article published on 3 August in the Irish Times.

The article states that up to 25,000 scans acquired after 2011 may be affected by the problem in computer systems in the National Integrated Medical Imaging System (NIMIS), operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Irish government's agency for health and social care services. The problem was discovered last week and affects CT, MRI, x-ray, and ultrasound studies.

The HSE is investigating the issue to find out which patients are affected, but its early findings indicate the problem occurs when the "less than" symbol -- "<" -- is used in a radiology report. A report that states a patient had an arterial stenosis of < 50% would incorrectly be rendered as 50%, the article states.

The reporting radiologist would be unaware of the error, and the article quotes a radiologist as stating some patients could be treated incorrectly on the basis of the error. On the other hand, treatment is rarely dictated by the finding of a single study, according to an HSE official quoted in the story.

A patch has been applied that replaces the < symbol with the words "less than," according to the story. Facilities in the Irish Republic that use the NIMIS network are being told of the error.

Copyright © 2017

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