Scan concerns raised in March
TORONTO—The two Ontario hospitals where there are fears about possible errors in the reading of 3,500 mammograms and CT scans were alerted to concerns about one radiologist in March but only made their worries public late Wednesday night—more than five months later.
“The concerns about the radiologist were discovered by our chief of diagnostic imaging on March 28, 2013, who acted immediately to reduce risk to patients,” Trillium Health Partners spokeswoman Suset Silva said in an e-mail to The Canadian Press.
Trillium announced Wednesday it had uncovered a “performance issue” with a veteran radiologist concerning diagnostic tests conducted between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013 at two of its three sites—Mississauga Hospital and Queensway Health Centre in Toronto.
Trillium did not inform the Ministry of Health about the situation with the possibly misdiagnosed test results until late August, but said it removed the radiologist’s hospital privileges after a two-month internal probe.
“Immediately after obtaining the results of the investigation, the hospital initiated a process to have the physician’s privileges restricted by its board of directors,” said Silva.
The Trillium board restricted the radiologist’s privileges in late May and notified the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the decision June 3, she added.
One patient, Houda Rafle, 28, told Toronto television station CP24 that she was given a clean bill of health after a CT scan in March—only to find out recently that she did, indeed, have cancer at the time and it has gotten worse.
“The tumour was present in March and unfortunately because there was a six-month duration, it had now spread to my lungs and is now stage 4,” said Rafle.
The misdiagnosis—and the fact the untreated cancer has spread—triggered a wide range of emotions when she got the news, added Rafle.
“It’s frustration, disappointment, just devastated, ” she remarked.
“[But] when I heard this news, the one thing I knew was I have to get through this, I have to no option but to recover.”
The Ontario government moved quickly to assure people the problem was caught with normal internal hospital procedures, and they should have total confidence in the health-care system.
“I am interested in learning about what other provinces are doing, but I think it’s important to acknowledge our system is quite different, so that quality oversight is happening in our hospitals,” said Health minister Deb Matthews.
Receiving such a letter from a hospital can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, added Matthews.
“I know that they are very worried,” she conceded. “I understand that, and that’s why I’m pleased that the hospital is moving as quickly as it can to review each and every case.”
Ontario’s New Democrats said the Trillium review seems to have been sparked by one person making mistakes and agreed the system did work—although perhaps not as quickly as it should.
“I would say the system has worked,” said NDP health critic France Gelinas. “[But] it should have been a little bit quicker.”