Victorian women can have confidence in checks for cervical cancer
Federal Health Minister Kay Patterson said the women of Victoria can have confidence in the accuracy of their pap smears. For legal reasons, Senator Patterson was unable to comment on the particular case before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
7 March 2002
Victorian women can have confidence in checks for cervical cancerFederal Health Minister Kay Patterson said the women of Victoria can have confidence in the accuracy of their pap smears.
For legal reasons, Senator Patterson was unable to comment on the particular case before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
However, people could be assured that the Health Insurance Commission, on behalf of the Government, had pursued the issue vigorously to protect the interests of women in the State.
Senator Patterson said the Government had acted swiftly on this issue. When it came to the attention of the Government it had acted to withdraw the Medicare eligibility for pap smears for this laboratory.
"I also took action to ensure that the surveillance of this laboratory was increased," she said.
"I think it is important to stress that the problems with this laboratory have been picked up by the independent body that screens testing in Australia. This body is called the National Association of Testing Authorities.
"To put this issue in perspective, over the past three years, only three suspensions of accreditations were issued for all pathology testing of laboratories throughout Australia.
"This shows that the system of checking does work. So women in Victoria can be assured that the results of their pap smear tests are routinely checked to ensure their accuracy. I believe that women in Victoria can have confidence in the integrity of their pap smears. I remind women that they should be seeing their doctor for a pap smear every two years."
Senator Patterson said she had been assured by both the Royal College of Pathologists and the Australian Association of Pathology Practices that pap smears undergo rigorous checking as part of the industry standards for quality assurance.
"I have been informed that the laboratory in question performs only about five per cent of pap smears in Victoria," she said.
Senator Patterson said that following the completion of the AAT process, she would seek medical advice to determine if there was any risk of false negatives from this laboratory. If it was necessary, she would ask the Victorian Cervical Cancer Register to contact every woman who had had a pap smear from this laboratory over the past two years, encouraging them to see their doctor to discuss when their next test would be appropriate.
Media Contact: Randal Markey (02) 6277 7220 or 0417 694 520