Seventeen patients have been diagnosed with cancer after previously receiving the all-clear, it has emerged.
Another 14 patients, some who had radiotherapy, were told they had the disease when they did not. Hereford County Hospital confirmed that a review of samples had found mistakes in diagnosis.
Overall, the prognosis is more serious for 40 patients.
The investigation into samples from 4,654 patients was announced earlier this year after mistakes made in the hospital’s laboratory came to light.
A consultant has since been suspended pending the completion of disciplinary procedures. All tissue samples were taken between May 2006 and August 2007.
A statement from Hereford Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The review followed indications of possible errors in the examination of a small proportion of tissue samples by one consultant working at the hospital during that time. All 5,404 samples (from the 4,654 patients) examined by the individual during that period were sent for review by an independent external laboratory.
"As a consequence, a total of 102 patients had to be recalled to discuss changes in their diagnosis or treatment. Of these, the prognosis was more serious for 40 patients, with the prognosis for the remaining 62 being either less serious or not materially different. Of the 102 patients recalled, 70 required a change in treatment. Treatment plans have now been updated accordingly.”
The trust’s chief executive Martin Woodford said: “Now that the review is complete I would, once again, like to apologise personally and on behalf of the trust, to all patients affected by this regrettable situation, in particular to those who had received an inaccurate diagnosis.
“Our highest priority throughout has been the care and wellbeing of our patients and we have acted as quickly as possible to make sure that the review was carried out thoroughly and effectively.”
Alison Budd, the trust’s medical director, said: “Following the careful and complex checking procedure, the total number of patients we needed to recall to discuss changes in their diagnosis or treatment was 102.
“Where necessary, those patients have had their treatment amended. We would like to reassure patients that individual details about them will not be made public.”
She added: “We took immediate action to investigate when concerns were raised and, as a result, have increased our cross-checking and quality control procedures to protect against a similar situation arising in the future.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that details of 68 women invited for a smear test by a Midland health centre were posted to another patient.
Staff at Walsgrave Health Centre, in Coventry, compiled the list of patients who had failed to respond to invitations or attend routine smear test appointments since 2003, urging them to make an appointment for one.
But the list, which contained patients’ names and dates of birth, was mistakenly mailed to one patient along with her letter.
Practice bosses have launched an internal inquiry into the matter and Coventry Primary Care Trust has reported the blunder to the strategic health authority, NHS West Midlands, as “a serious and untoward incident.”
A trust spokesman said: “The surgery had identified a cohort of patients that had previously been invited to have a routine smear test but had not replied or attended, so letters were sent out as an urgent reminder to this small group of women.
“Unfortunately, due to human error, the list was sent along with a letter to one of the patients, who chose to inform the local media rather than the surgery or trust.
“Obviously this was a clear and significant breech of patient confidentiality, one which we are taking very seriously.’’