Audit: 29 patients not told of abnormal screenings by Cumberland Health Department

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – An internal audit of the Cumberland County Department of Health found 160 patients were not properly notified of their abnormal cervical screening test results.

It found 29 of those 160 women were never notified at all.

The audit focused on records they received from the lab the county contracts to run the tests. It looked at those abnormal test results from 2011-2015. During that time, 136 were in the Family Planning Clinic, 16 in the Maternity Clinic and 8 in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program or BCCCP.

Read the audit

“For them not to follow up with these people, that’s putting their lives at jeopardy,” Vivian Simmons, a medical professional in Fayetteville said.

The county began investigating following a CBS North Carolina report. Three nurses came forward claiming women who had received abnormal pap smears and breast exams weren’t notified.

Cumberland County released the results of its initial investigation into the Health Department and BCCCP last month. It found all patients were notified with eight notified late.

The audit committee said it decided to take a closer look after speaking with staff and reviewing medical records. They decided the former BCCCP program coordinator, the one who was fired for failing to notify patients in a timely manner, was also responsible for alerting patients in other programs.

According to the audit, out of 160 abnormal results since 2011, eight have nothing in their files to document notification. Another 21 had their first-notice letters returned and no follow up communication was documented.

The review found none of the 160 patient files reviewed were handled in complete accordance with policy.

“If that’s whats going on they need to do better,” Shirley Johnson who used the Cumberland County Health Department in the past said.

Documentation shows incomplete follow-up based on notification policy for the remaining 131 patients.  

The patients were from three different clinics – the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, Maternity Clinic and the Family Planning Clinic.

The internal audit director Tammy Gillis said they’ve begun notifying all 160 patients and that she’ll be observing the process to keep County Commissioners notified.

Other key findings of the audit:

  • Six letters sent prior to 2016
  • 68 first notice letters sent in 2016
  •  21 letters returned as undeliverable with no attempt at follow-up
  • 63 patients sent a second notice in 2016
  • 11 patients sent a third notice in 2016 which was supposed to be sent certified mail and was not.
  • None of the 160 patient files reviewed were handled in complete accordance with policy.

The patients were from three different clinics – the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, Maternity Clinic and the Family Planning Clinic.

CBS North Carolina first broke this story back in May. Three nurses came forward and said women with abnormal results and breast exams weren’t informed. It happened between 2010 and 2015.

The Department of Health and Human Services told CBS North Carolina that between July 2010 and June 2016, 851 women used it to obtain cervical screenings.

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