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Another Canadian Radiology Fiasco Emerges

November 8, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Practice Management
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What is it with the radiology system in Canada?

Sorry; we don’t mean to impugn an entire country, or an entire country’s worth of radiologists. But last week, the authority that governs the health-care system on the island of Newfoundland revealed what may be the third major Canadian radiology scandal in the past couple of years. This time, authorities say at least two people have been harmed by radiologists’ errors.

Central Health CEO Karen McGrath was vague about the exact nature of the harm. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News quoted her as saying of one victim:

Certainly the person had significant pain and suffering long past what should have been experienced by that individual. If the proper report had been reported on, there would have been able to be an intervention much quicker.

The other patient experienced “mental anguish,” McGrath said.

The problem? Two interim radiologists working at the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander wrote reports based on outdated imaging tests. For at least six patients, they based their reports on older tests rather than the most recent ones.

Central Health has begun a review of the two radiologists’ reports. So far, there’s no word on the number of reports under suspicion, although Central Health says X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, and MRI are involved. HealthImaging reported that the investigation covers reports generated in October through December 2010 and May through September 2011. The review is expected to take three to four weeks.

This situation follows two other inquiries this year: a review of 14,000 scans in British Columbia (ending with a public report in September that revealed serious problems with the interpretation of CT scans) and an ongoing investigation of 22,500 scans (so far) in Quebec.

The BC and Quebec probes seem to involve competence, credentialing, and training. Based on the limited information available so far, the Newfoundland situation may be more a question of procedural issues. We’ll see.

In the meantime, McGrath said, “I want to say that Central Health apologizes to all the individuals who will be included in this review.”

Related seminar: Computed Body Tomography: The Cutting Edge

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