450,000 Women Missed Breast Cancer Screenings Due to “Algorithm Failure”
Last week, the U.K. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt announced that an independent inquiry had been launched to determine how a “computer algorithm failure” stretching back to 2009 caused some 450,000 patients in England between the ages of 68 to 71 to not be invited for their final breast cancer screenings. The errant algorithm was in the National Health System’s (NHS) breast cancer screening scheduling software, and remained undiscovered for nine years. Further fueling the public outrage were unconfirmed reports that the error, which apparently was found during an update to the screening algorithm, was uncovered early last year if not before.
The error was at first thought to affect only a small number of women. It wasn’t until early this year that its full scope was finally understood byhealth officials at the NHS and Public Health England, which is responsible for breast cancer screening in England. Government ministers were informed of the situation in March, but the public wasn’t told until this month.