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GPs despair at contract in N. Ireland

Practices could lose quality points and potentially miss diagnosing abnormalities because electronically transmitted pathology results for cytology tests are arriving incorrectly coded, a GP has claimed.

Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC IT sub-committee, has discovered that under the Pathology Messaging Implementation Project protocol all types of cytology result are being sent under a single Read code ­ 4k54 ­ rather than different codes for different types of result.

'Whether the test is normal or indicates cancer, the code is the same,' he said. Dr Cundy added the code is not recognised by QMAS as a qualifying code for points scoring on the quality framework either.

GPs should therefore ensure they read accompanying structured text to ensure the correct 4k2-type codes for a particular diagnosis is entered into records.

Dr Cundy, a GP in Wimbledon, has asked the National Programme for IT to ensure suppliers of electronic pathology messaging send data with the right Read codes to avoid manually entering each result, which he said made him question the whole point in moving to electronic messaging.

'It's laborious rekeying everything,' he said. 'You may have got 90 per cent of patients' smears tested but if 50 per cent of your smears are coded 4k54 they are not going to count.'

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