Breast imaging operations suspended at radiology center because of 'serious health risk'

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois regulators have suspended the breast-imaging operations of a radiology center in Belleville following a review that found major quality problems that constituted a "serious risk" to health.
 
More than 2,000 patients of Belleville Imaging are receiving letters telling them they need to have their mammograms reviewed, the Belleville News-Democrat reported (http://bit.ly/2fNhgqb ). Some may need repeat mammograms, 
 
Mammograms are tests that screen for breast cancer. They're also used to check patients who were treated for breast cancer in the past.
 
Belleville Imaging failed to meet quality standards established by the American College of Radiology as required by Illinois. The American College of Radiology's report states the facility's practice posed a "serious risk to human health."
 
Reviewers disputed the findings of nine out of 30 examinations, including eight breast tissue abnormalities that failed to result in a follow-up recommendation. Problems with images included breast positioning, film exposure and contrast and sharpness.
 
That worries patient Mary Nettleton of Belleville. She had three exams during the period the facility was reviewed, May 13, 2014 through Aug. 31, 2016.
 
"How did this get away for three years and nobody catches this?" Nettleton said.
 
Mammography centers are reviewed once every three years, said Rebecca Clark, a spokeswoman for Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which regulates the facilities. 
 
Belleville Imaging manager David Horace defended the facility's record, telling the newspaper that quality problems with mammography images don't necessarily prevent diagnosis. The facility is transferring patients' images to the Breast Health Center at Memorial Hospital in Belleville where patients can pick them up, Horace said.
 
Belleville Imaging may apply to conduct mammograms again after it has fixed the problems. 
 
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