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An ongoing review of 3,500 scans that were read by an Ontario radiologist in 2012 and 2013 has increased the impetus for radiology peer-review programs, not only in Ontario but also in other Canadian provinces.

It will cost tens of millions of dollars. But one interested observer said the investment would be worth it:

Any increased cost associated with such a program would be offset by a reduction in the cost of managing the medical mistakes that occur in the absence of such programs.

That’s the opinion of Paul Harte, an Ontario lawyer specializing in medical malpractice, as quoted by the Toronto Star. He would certainly know something about the cost of managing medical mistakes.

The latest push follows the revelation in September that Trillium Health of Ontario had alerted 3,500 CT and mammography patients that it was reviewing their scans because of possible misreadings by radiologist Ivo Slezic, MD. As we reported at the time, Trillium found the problems during a routine quality-assurance review.

The provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and several hospitals in Ontario have recently initiated peer-review programs for radiologists. Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare, two health-care systems in Hamilton, Ontario, are setting up a pilot program. A random sample of a radiologist’s reports will be sent to another radiologist, who will review them within 48 hours. Any necessary changes will be made before the report goes to the referring physician.

Harte, the malpractice lawyer, said some doctors won’t like it. “They won’t want people looking over their shoulder all the time,” he said. “I appreciate that, but public safety trumps that.”

Actually, said Mark Prieditis, MD, president of the Ontario Association of Radiologists, radiologists have been advocating better quality-assurance measures. “We are the ones who have been pushing it in hospitals and other settings too.”

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Related CME seminar (up to 59.25 AMA PRA Category 1 credits™): National Diagnostic Imaging Symposium™


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