Nearly 4,000 tests for heart disease ordered by doctors at New York City's Harlem Hospital over the past three years were never read, officials said today.
The echocardiogram tests were stored on a computer and forgotten, hospital officials confirmed today.
Under the hospital's system, technicians scanned tests and flagged any that looked abnormal. Officials said it appeared that unflagged tests were set aside and forgotten.
That system is not used at other city hospitals.
The city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the public hospital system, including Harlem Hospital, and Columbia University, whose medical school supplies the cardiologists who work at Harlem Hospital Center, acknowledged the problem in a joint statement on Tuesday, after being asked about it by The New York Times.
In a statement today, HHC has already reported this situation to the State Department of Health and is conducting a full investigation. HHC also conducted a sample audit of echocardiogram tests at all its other hospital facilities and confirmed this is an isolated situation.
“While the process the doctors followed may have alerted cardiologists to those echocardiograms that were most likely to be abnormal, the failure to read the echocardiograms in a timely manner is inexcusable and may have placed patients at risk,” Alan D. Aviles, hospitals corporation president, said in the statement.
HHC said one doctor was fired and another was demoted.