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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2011HSERV0007-000128

Feb. 11, 2011

Ministry of Health Services
Vancouver Coastal Health
Fraser Health

 

 

INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO MEDICAL SCANS

 

VANCOUVER – Health Services Minister Colin Hansen has appointed the chair of the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council, Dr. Doug Cochrane, to lead an independent two-part investigation after two health authorities reported issues around the quality of CT scan and obstetrical ultrasound readings performed by two radiologists.

 

The issues relate to one full-time radiologist in Powell River and one temporary (locum) radiologist who practiced briefly in the eastern Fraser Valley in early fall who lacked either the appropriate credentials or experience to analyze CT scans. Both Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health have begun notifying a total of almost 3,400 patients and their doctors as part of their internal investigation into these matters. While comprehensive reviews undertaken in both health authorities have confirmed that in the majority of cases, patient care has not been compromised roughly 140 cases were identified as requiring further follow-up between doctors and their patients.

 

Prior to practicing in the Fraser Valley the locum radiologist also practiced for several weeks in the Cranbrook area, involving approximately 200 cases. However, family doctors linked to those patients were immediately informed and an internal quality review performed by four experienced radiologists confirmed that patient care was not affected.  

 

My first concern is with the patients and their families and I want to apologize for the stress and anxiety this may cause,” said Hansen. “Our government takes these issues very seriously. I have called on the health authorities to work with those patients and their doctors to ensure they receive any follow-up tests and care that may be required as quickly as possible.”

 

Neither of the radiologists implicated in these matters is currently practicing in British Columbia. While initial follow-up with health authorities and the College of Physicians and Surgeons suggest these occurrences are unique to the two radiologists involved, the fact that these incidents have been identified in approximately the same time frame raises serious questions that need to be addressed as quickly as possible.

 

Part one of Dr. Cochrane’s review will be an immediate 30-day investigation to ensure all radiologists currently working in B.C. are properly credentialed. Upon completion, results will be made public.

 


 

Part two will examine all aspects of the known incidents. In particular and in the interest of preventing similar occurrences in the future, the review will include:

·         A comprehensive fact framework including a description of the incidents in question;

·         Analysis of the response by health authorities when they learned of the issue.

·         A review of the health authority physician credentialing and privileges including the role played by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

·         Any further issues that arise during the course of the review.

 

Findings from this more extensive work will be made public within six months.

 

“As a recognized national leader in the area of patient safety and quality, Dr. Cochrane is well-positioned to provide a thorough review of all of the facts and make recommendations to ensure this never happens again,” added Hansen. “His independent analysis will ensure the public can continue to have confidence in the care they receive in British Columbia.”

 

All patients affected are being contacted directly by the health authorities involved, however, if the public has a concern about their health they should contact HealthLink BC toll-free at 8-1-1.

 

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Media contact:

 

Michelle Stewart

Communications Director

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887 (media line)

Trudi Beutel, Public Affairs Officer

Vancouver Coastal Health

604 708-5282

604 812-1847 (cell)

Trudi.Beutel@vch.ca

 

Fraser Health Media Pager
604 450-7881

 

 

 

 

 

Backgrounders follow.
BACKGROUNDER

 

 

VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH INVESTIGATION

 

Vancouver Coastal Health is contacting nearly 900 patients in the Powell River area following an internal investigation into concerns a radiologist at the hospital there was not authorized by the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons to interpret CT scans.

 

As soon as VCH discovered the concerns, the radiologist at Powell River General Hospital was told to immediately stop reading CT scans and obstetrical ultrasounds.

 

As well, VCH immediately ordered an independent review of the CT scans that had been read by the radiologist between April and October 2010.

 

That review is now complete and patients and their physicians are being notified of the results. A small number of patients whose cases require urgent review are being prioritized and any follow-up care, including further CT scans or required treatment, is being expedited as quickly as possible.

 

Of the 894 patient cases whose CT scans were reviewed, approximately 134 were identified as requiring further contact. Of those, about 30 cases, or less than four per cent, were described as warranting more immediate attention.

 

CT scanning is an important tool in medical imaging and is used for a wide variety of diagnostic and screening procedures, including cancer, heart disease, blood clots and fractures of the extremities. However, it is only one of the clinical factors that a physician would use when determining the course of patient care.

 

Additionally, the Powell River General Hospital radiologist had read nearly 2,300 obstetrical ultrasounds since 2002 when he was not authorized to do so by the College.

 

All women who had obstetrical ultrasounds performed at the hospital and have since given birth are being informed of the situation, and that there is no health-related action necessary for them to take. They are, however, encouraged to follow-up with their physicians if they have concerns. Those patients who were still pregnant were referred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox for an additional ultrasound.

 

To ensure ongoing patient safety, CT scans performed at Powell River General Hospital will now be read by accredited radiologists at Lions Gate General Hospital in North Vancouver. All obstetrical ultrasounds will now be performed at St. Joseph’s Hospital. VCH will also undertake regular and random audits of medical imaging services across the region.

 

To help support patients and their families, VCH has established a toll-free line (1-877-993-9199, extension 7) and email, PRimaging@vch.ca, for general questions. As well, a dedicated patient care coordinator has been assigned who will ensure patients affected by this situation receive their follow-up diagnostics and care promptly.

 

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BACKGROUNDER

 

 

FRASER HEALTH INVESTIGATION

 

Fraser Health will be contacting 170 patients in the eastern Fraser Valley following an internal investigation into concerns that an out-of-province radiologist who worked temporarily at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and also briefly at Chilliwack General Hospital may not have had sufficient experience to interpret CT scans.

 

The radiologist was a professionally credentialed physician who passed the standard reference check process and was working as a member of the medical staff in a temporary privileges category from mid-August to mid-September in 2010.

 

After the individual returned to his home province, the BC College of Physician and Surgeons notified Fraser Health of concerns about the physician’s performance in another jurisdiction and directed the health authority to perform a quality assurance review. No patient or physician complaints about the procedures had been received prior to the College’s notification.

 

Radiologists in Fraser Health’s Department of Medical Imaging reviewed 170 patient records, mostly at Abbotsford Regional Hospital but also about a dozen CT scans from Chilliwack General Hospital. The images were a general mix of various parts of the body.  In addition, each scan is also being reviewed by the program medical director for Fraser Health’s region-wide medical imaging clinical program.

 

All 170 patient reports have been reviewed and 10 from Abbotsford Regional Hospital are considered to contain major discrepancies. The family doctor or the ordering physician for these 10 patients have been notified. As Fraser Health continues its investigation, each of the 10 physicians are being contacted to determine the course of action that the physician had taken with their patients, and to determine whether the physicians had notified and counselled the patient. Fraser Health will also contact each of these 10 patients or families by telephone to notify them of the discrepancy. All 170 patients or families will also receive a registered letter with more information.

 

After identifying the course of action prescribed for affected patients, the department will work to complete its review and report to the Health Authority Medical Advisory Committee, which reports to the Board of Directors for quality performance issues for medical professionals. Fraser Health will also be advising the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons of Fraser Health’s initial findings and actions taken to date.

 

CT scanning is an important tool in medical imaging and is used for a wide variety of diagnostic and screening procedures, including cancer, heart disease, blood clots and fractures of the extremities. However, it is only one of the clinical factors that a physician would use when determining the course of patient care.

 

While all 170 patients will receive a registered letter and the 10 patients or families with the most urgent concerns have or will be directly contacted, patients can contact Fraser Health’s Patient Care Quality Office toll-free at 1-877-880-8823 or email: pcqoffice@fraserhealth.ca.

 

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BACKGROUNDER

 

 

DR. DOUG COCHRANE BIOGRAPHY

 

Dr. Cochrane is the chair and Provincial Patient Safety & Quality Officer of the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, and chair of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

 

Dr. Cochrane is a professor at the University of British Columbia in Neurosurgery, a certificant of the American Board of Pediatric Neurological Surgery, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Dr. Cochrane obtained his medical degree from the University of Toronto, graduating in 1975, followed by training in neurosurgery at the University of Calgary. A pediatric neurosurgery fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, was completed in 1981.

Following his training, Dr. Cochrane was appointed as neurosurgeon at the Calgary General Hospital, Foothills Provincial Hospital, Tom Baker Cancer Center and Alberta Children’s Hospital, and served these facilities until 1986. During this time, he held an appointment as assistant professor of neurosciences, University of Calgary.

 

In 1986, Dr. Cochrane was appointed as a staff neurosurgeon at British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children. He served as the head of the section of surgery and surgeon-in-chief, British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital and Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia 1991-2001, vice president of medicine for Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia 2001-2003, and vice president of medical affairs, quality, safety & risk management for the Provincial Health Services Authority in Vancouver 2003-2008.

 

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Media contact:

 

Michelle Stewart

Communications Director

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887 (media line)

Trudi Beutel, Public Affairs Officer

Vancouver Coastal Health

604 708-5282

604 812-1847 (cell)

Trudi.Beutel@vch.ca

 

Fraser Health Media Pager
604 450-7881

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.