ARLINGTON – Tarrant County’s John Peter Smith Hospital paid a $4,000 fine and was required to retrain doctors and X-ray techs after a random review revealed potential problems with thousands of mammogram images and employees misreading results.
WFAA has learned more than 4,000 patients might be affected and could require re-screening.
"It's easy to exaggerate this and I don't want to take emphasis away from it, but what I'd like people to understand is we recognized there's a problem. We've resolved the problem. Obviously, if someone hasn't been contacted and needs to, they need to come see us,” said Warren Norred, board member for the Tarrant County Hospital District, which oversees JPS.
The American College of Radiology made the discovery at the JPS Medical Home Southeast Tarrant facility located at 1050 W. Arkansas Lane in Arlington. This is the only location where mammograms were in question.
ACR sampled 30 cases at that facility performed between May 2, 2015 and May 2, 2017, and reported that 18 of them “did not meet the ACR’s clinical image evaluation criteria and failed the AMR [Advanced Mammography Review] with deficiencies; some of which were severe,” according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
Despite voluntarily suspending its mammography services at the Arlington location on June 6, JPS did not alert the 4,000 patients until it mailed them a certified letter on September 1.
JPS said it also alerted 200 referring physicians.
But Norred, the only person associated with JPS willing to be interviewed, said JPS has yet to make contact with hundreds of those affected.
"My understanding is everybody got a certified letter and somewhere around a couple thousand of those have come back,” explained Norred. “And then I know we've made about a thousand phone calls."
It’s uncertain exactly how many patients have yet to be notified. A spokeswoman for JPS did not provide that figure.
Officially, JPS downplayed the issue.
"We put our patients first in everything we do. I would be the first person to raise a concern over questionable images. I feel strongly that the mammograms performed by JPS were of appropriate diagnostic quality and no patient's health was in danger," said Dr. Scott Kayser, the chair of radiology for the JPS Health Network in a statement provided by a spokeswoman.
But in that letter to JPS in June, the state suggested this issue was more serious. The state wrote that the Arlington JPS facility "poses a serious risk to human health."
JPS agreed to an eight-point plan with the state which included requiring technologists undergo a week of retraining and doctors had to attend a lecture and shadow an expert.
The Texas Department of Health and Human Services told WFAA that JPS completed the corrective action plan and resumed mammograms on Sept. 8. Still, permission was granted on a provisional basis, the state said. JPS faces “ongoing increased oversight” a spokesman for DSHS said.
Chris Hamilton, a civil trial attorney in Dallas, calls it a violation of public trust.
"This is a severe violation of trust. For a mistake to be made with one patient is a mistake. For something like this to occur for two years or more is a major violation of public trust and creates a public health issue,” said Hamilton.
Norred points out there is nothing to suggest any patient has an undiagnosed cancer. In fact, no one has come forward, he added. Still, two years of mammograms might not have been accurate, the state said.
Texas has 703 certified mammography facilities. Two other facilities, Clinics of North Texas in Wichita Falls and Jack County Hospital District in Jacksboro, voluntarily suspended mammography services in 2017, as well.