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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2011HSERV0014-000244

March 11, 2011

Ministry of Health Services

 

 

Report finds all B.C. radiologists licensed appropriately

 

VICTORIA – The first phase of a review into concerns regarding the quality of medical scans in British Columbia has concluded all physicians currently providing medical scan interpretation in the province are appropriately qualified and licensed. However, the report recommends a new peer review approach will help better support individual radiologists, improve quality and strengthen public confidence.

 

Last month, Health Services Minister Colin Hansen appointed the chair of the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council, Dr. Doug Cochrane, to lead an independent two-part investigation, focusing first on a review of the credentials of all radiologists working in B.C.

 

“Based on my initial work, I am confident the 287 physicians currently providing diagnostic imaging services are appropriately licensed,” said Dr. Cochrane. “However, to ensure the quality of their work, medical staff need opportunities to upgrade their skills as diagnostic technology evolves, and they need the support of colleagues through a structured, rigorous review of their work on an ongoing basis – to ensure high-quality patient care.”

 

He added that increased checks and balances within the health-care system can better support radiologists, particularly those who are more isolated from their colleagues in rural areas.

 

Specifically, Dr. Cochrane recommends:

 

·         The Ministry of Health Services implement a province-wide peer review system for diagnostic imaging on a phased-in basis – where a proportion of medical scans initially read by each radiologist in a health authority would be re-read by another radiologist – with any discrepancies reported to both the health authority and their board.

·         The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC immediately implement retrospective peer reviews, focusing on hospitals identified by health authorities where radiologists may have been operating without peer support and review.

·         The College’s Diagnostic Accreditation Program initiate medical reviews to assess the quality of physicians reporting in any facility that houses a CT scanner or MRI in B.C. if this had not taken place as part of the accreditation process.

·         Health Authority boards instruct their Medical Advisory Committees to include regular in-depth performance reviews as part of their appointment processes for medical staff.

 

Dr. Cochrane said since his review was launched on Feb. 11, health authorities identified concerns with the quality of medial scans performed by two additional licensed and credentialed radiologists, a radiologist practising out of St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox and a locum radiologist temporarily practising in the Fraser Valley in 2009 and 2010, bringing the total number of physicians involved to four. Reviews of their work continue.

 

“Our primary concern from the start of this process has been the impact of these issues on patients and their families. We are committed to work with the health authorities and the college to act on these recommendations, while the second phase of the review is underway,” said Hansen. “If these peer reviews identify any further concerns we are committed to act quickly and ensure any medical follow-up that may be required is dealt with as swiftly as possible.”

 

Part two of the review will include a comprehensive fact framework of the known incidents, 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 of BC – and any further issues identified during the course of the review.

 

“The college has been working on expanding its peer review processes for radiologists since last fall, as well as mandating continuing professional development for all physicians. We are pleased that Dr Cochrane recognizes and supports the work that has been done,” said Dr. Heidi Oetter, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. “The college will continue to work collaboratively with the health authorities and the Ministry of Health Services to establish and implement quality-assurance processes and peer review as outlined. We welcome the opportunity to work with Dr. Cochrane as he completes the second phase of his report.”

 

None of the four radiologists linked to the issues – including the two identified in the announcement of the review – are currently practising in British Columbia, and health authorities have been actively working to inform patients and physicians as discrepancies have been identified and follow-up is required. 

 

The full report is available at:

www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2011/cochrane-phase1-report.pdf

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Two backgrounders follow.

 

Media contacts:

 

Michelle Stewart

Communications Director

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887 (media line)

Ken Donohue

Communications Leader

BC Patient Safety & Quality Council

604 668 8217

604 785 5890 (cell)

 

 

Susan Prins

Director of Communications

BC College of Physicians and Surgeons

604 694-6129

 

 

BACKGROUNDER 1

For Immediate Release
2011HSERV0014-000244

March 11, 2011

Ministry of Health Services

 

 

 

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 and risk management for the Provincial Health Services Authority in Vancouver 2003-2008.

 

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Media contacts:

 

Michelle Stewart

Communications Director

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887 (media line)

Ken Donohue

Communications Leader

BC Patient Safety & Quality Council

604 668 8217

604 785 5890 (cell)

 

 

Susan Prins

Director of Communications

BC College of Physicians and Surgeons

604 694-6129

 

 


 

 

 

BACKGROUNDER 2

For Immediate Release
2011HSERV0014-000244

March 11, 2011

Ministry of Health Services

 

 

 

 

HEALTH AUTHORITY INVESTIGATIONS – UPDATE

 

The quality of medical scans interpreted by four radiologists has been called into question during the course of the investigation to date. None of the radiologists is currently practising in British Columbia. In all cases, health authorities are working with radiologists and other physicians to review test results and determine whether follow-up with patients is required. Out of the half-million CT scans performed each year, approximately 4,500 are the subject of these reviews. All patients requiring follow-up are being or have been contacted directly by health officials.

 

Radiologist #1 – Powell River: Vancouver Coastal Health has re-read 894 CT scans which were originally read by a radiologist at Powell River General Hospital between April and October 2010. Of the 894 CT scans re-read, VCH found 152 significant discrepancies and have followed-up directly with each of these patients and their physicians. VCH also reviewed obstetrical ultrasounds performed on all women who are currently expecting in the Powell River area. The women have all been re-scanned, and those scans read by an accredited radiologist. Chart reviews were conducted of some earlier obstetric ultrasound cases where concerns had been raised, and the health authority is satisfied that no medical errors occurred. Patients who do not receive a letter or telephone call can be reassured they are not affected by this review.

 

Radiologist #2 – Fraser Valley East: Fraser Health has re-read 174 CT scans read by a radiologist who practised as a locum at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Chilliwack General Hospital in August and September 2010. FHA found 11 significant discrepancies and has followed-up with each of these patients and their physicians. Patients who do not receive a letter or telephone call can be reassured they are not affected by this review.

 

This radiologist also temporarily worked at East Kootenay Regional Hospital in September and October 2010. IHA re-read just over 200 CT scans that this radiologist read at this hospital and found no significant discrepancies.

 

Radiologist #3 – St. Joseph’s Hospital: St. Joseph’s Hospital, in partnership with the Vancouver Island Health Authority, is in the process of re-reading up to 2,723 CT scans read by a radiologist between April 2009 and January 2011. Of the 1,313 scans categorized so far, they have found 24 significant discrepancies and will follow-up with each of these patients and their physicians. While there is no indication of a pattern of concern for x-rays, mammography or ultrasounds, a quality-assurance review will be done to ensure they were read correctly. Patients who do not receive a letter or telephone call can be reassured they are not affected by this review.

 

This radiologist had also worked on a temporary basis at the Dawson Creek Hospital in June 2010, providing services to patients from Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and surrounding areas. The Northern Health Authority has reviewed 100 CT scans read by this radiologist. The health authority found six significant discrepancies and is following up with each of these patients and their physicians.

 

Radiologist #4 – Ridge Meadows Hospital: Fraser Health has re-read 197 out of 407 CT scans read by a locum radiologist working out of Ridge Meadows Hospital between November 2010 and March, 2011. Of the 197 scans reviewed, nine were considered to have significant discrepancies. Due to the CT findings, Fraser Health is also reviewing the x-rays and 184 diagnostic mammograms that were interpreted by this radiologist at RMH. The radiologist also practised from November 2008 to October 2009 in the Fraser Valley. FHA is in the process of re-reading approximately 1,900 CT scans read by this radiologist during this period. The health authority will follow-up directly with any affected patients and their physicians. Patients who do not receive a letter or phone call can be reassured they are not affected by this review.

 

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Media contacts:

 

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  

 

 

 

Suzanne Germain

Vancouver Island Health Authority

250 370-8294

 

 

Michael Pontus

President and CEO

St. Joseph's General Hospital

250 339-1409

 

Northern Health Authority Media

Media line: 250 961-7724

 

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect