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‘No ongoing concerns’ following issues raised by histopathology trainees in 2020 – Council Archive.php

The Medical Council is “not aware of any ongoing” health and safety concerns following serious issues raised by histopathology trainees during an accreditation exercise in March 2020.

The concerns were documented in the Council’s accreditation report following its inspection of the pathology training programmes in 2020. The Council informed the Medical Independent the issues related to one histopathology laboratory

According to the inspection report, trainees raised concerns about formalin levels in a laboratory and had to wait seven weeks before receiving confirmation as to whether levels were safe. “During this time trainees, including some pregnant trainees, continued to work in the laboratory. (Trainees confirmed that formalin levels were later deemed safe).”

They also reported having to use a hand-held dictaphone while undertaking large surgical dissections and breast cut-up.

Trainees further stated that cut-up rooms were too small and the down draft was often insufficient. They described “sometimes feeling dizzy and getting nosebleeds due to their work environment”, according to the inspection report.

“Trainees stated that they have continuously raised concerns with trainers and consultants about the safety of the laboratory and the potential for error regarding their work.”

At the time, the Council “immediately” contacted the national specialty director (NSD) of the histopathology training programme and highlighted the urgency of resolving the situation.

The NSD spoke to the local trainers and hospital management and “immediately a solution was put in place.”

According to the Council, updates were provided by the Dean and NSD in April 2020, in the RCPI executive inspection report submitted in December 2020, and in the clinical site response, which was provided in June 2021

The Council added that further “assurance” was provided at a meeting with the Faculty in May 2022 to discuss the action and implementation plan (AIP), which is a standard part of the post-accreditation process.

According to the Council, the Faculty has ensured that health and safety is covered in the histopathology curriculum and is a priority when conducting its site accreditations.

“The Faculty also described how trainee representation throughout the Faculty has been strengthened, as part of the governance review completed by the Faculty of Pathology in 2022.”

A trainee representative from each specialty attended the AIP meeting in May 2022 and confirmed that histopathology trainees “are now better informed of how to raise any potential health and safety issues,” according to the Council.

In its annual return, the Faculty stated that all trainees were advised of the mechanisms for providing feedback at induction in 2023, and at the first study day of the training year.

The Faculty reported that all trainees were advised that they should receive a health and safety induction when they commence at sites, and if this is not received they should notify the NSDs. “The Faculty stated that this will be included as part of the Faculty induction every year and included in the training handbook,” according to the Council.

Meanwhile, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) informed MI it conducted one inspection of a public histopathology laboratory during 2022 and 2023.

The HSA received one report of an incident from a histopathology laboratory in the same time period.  It did not receive any reports of dangerous occurrences in histopathology laboratories in that timeframe.

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The Medical Independent 11th June 2024

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