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Radiologist Misses 28-Year-Old’s Tumor

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A 28-year-old TV producer in Toronto, complaining of fatigue, shortness of breath, and fever, underwent a CT scan on March 5. The radiologist said the scan didn’t show any problems.

But it did. At the end of July, feeling worse, she had a chest X-ray that revealed irregularities. Another CT scan on August 2 found a tumor near her heart. It also showed that the cancer had spread to her lungs. The woman, Houda Rafle, told the Toronto Star:

They compared the two scans, and they could see the tumor was visible back in March.

The radiologist who read the first scan had missed the tumor. He is Ivo Slezic, MD, who until April had worked at hospitals owned by Trillium Health Partners of Ontario, Canada, for 33 years. As we reported Thursday, Trillium suspended Dr. Slezic on April 1 and rescinded his privileges on May 30 after a routine quality-assurance review found problems with his readings.

Trillium, which operates three hospitals in the Toronto area, has notified 3,500 CT and mammography patients that their scans, read by Dr. Slezic from April 1, 2012, through March 31, 2013, are being reviewed for possible misreadings.

“I was very upset and disappointed because the radiologist had missed that, and that was [five] months of my life when I could have done something about the cancer,” Rafle said. “But I wasn’t notified until it spread, and now it is Stage IV.”

The Star reported Monday that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has begun investigating Dr. Slezic. The college said the radiologist had agreed not to practice medicine during the investigation.

The newspaper also said it had learned that Dr. Slezic was diagnosed with bowel cancer in late 2011. It said he was treated with surgery and chemotherapy and returned to work in 2012.

Of her missed diagnosis, Rafle said, “I was angry at first, but there was just something in me that made me realize there is no point in being angry over it anymore. I have got to deal with it.”

She seems to be remarkably poised, which is evident in a video that accompanies the Star story. “I am just dealing with it day by day,” she said. “Having a great frame of mind and being positive does wonders.”

Related CME seminar (up to 20.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): Computed Body Tomography: The Cutting Edge

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