Medical samples taken from patients to test for infection, disease and even cancer have been lost in hospitals in the Southern Trust area, which includes the South Tyrone and Craigavon Hospitals, over the last five years.
The local trust recorded six cases of missing samples that included tissue samples from a deceased patient and two biopsies from oral surgery. All but one of the samples were recovered.
Across Northern Ireland, 365 specimens have gone missing from hospital buildings or during transportation.
The chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland, Dr John Woods, said that cases of specimens going missing were “never acceptable”, regardless of the numbers involved.
“It is worrying that any medical specimen would go missing. These are often crucial in making a diagnosis and guiding treatment. It is especially concerning when specimens are lost which have been obtained by an invasive procedure which then has to be repeated.
“The number of specimens going missing may be small given the numbers processed but this is never acceptable.”
A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said: “In the last five years, a small number of samples from patients in the Southern Health Trust were unfortunately lost. Almost all of the samples were recovered and no patients were placed at risk.
“Each incident was reviewed and changes made to our procedures to minimise the possibility of it happening again. We apologise for any distress caused to patients and their families by the loss of these samples.”
The Southern Trust recorded six cases of missing samples that included tissue samples from a deceased patient and two biopsies from oral surgery. All but one of the samples were recovered.