Cancer patient demanded review of scan 2 years ago
A frustrated cancer patient demanded a full-blown investigation into practices at a Comox hospital two years before the B.C. government included a doctor there in its wide-ranging probe of medical scans.
Yvonne Kafka says that when she found out she had breast cancer despite negative scan results from St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox, she demanded that the provincial government start an investigation -- but not enough was done.
"What I'm finding out is everybody has someone else to blame," said Kafka. "Nobody wants to take the blame, so the patient is put at risk."
Her case was reviewed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which found that she had been misdiagnosed, but that the radiologist involved, Dr. Jose Zanbilowicz, deserved no discipline. Instead, the report blamed the problem on "miscommunications."
A provincial review board referred Kafka's case to another doctor for treatment.
But CTV News learned yesterday that the provincial government included Dr. Jose Zanbilowicz in their probe of doctors who may have been misreading scans taken of thousands of patients across the province.
None of the doctors are currently working in the province. The president and CEO of St. Joseph's Hospital said the radiologist there was flagged after a small cluster of seven scans needed to be reread in early January.
"It was brought to our attention that this was a quality issue, and the person involved has been suspended," said Mike Pontus.
Pontus says because all the questionable scans were redone, the hospital doesn't think any patients were put at risk. However, the hospital has not looked back as far as 2008, so it couldn't comment on Kafka's concerns.
Kafka says she felt lumps in her breasts in 2008, but a scan at St. Joseph's Hospital came back negative. Kafka says she wouldn't take no for an answer.
"I could feel it. It was like a ridge," she said. "My family doctor said, ‘You'll have a hard time finding a doctor to give you a biopsy because both tests say there's no cancer.' I said, well, I'll beg."
She got another test -- and three weeks later, Kafka says she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Kafka demanded to know how her cancer could have been missed. On top of her complaints to the College of Physicians and Surgeon, she complained to the province, the hospital, the health ministry and the leader of the opposition at the time, Carole James.
In the letter to the province in 2009, Kafka demanded that Dr. Doug Cochrane review the case.
"I wish Dr. Douglas Cochrane to conduct an independent review of St. Joseph's Hospital without any interference by all parties involved," she wrote.
Cochrane is now reviewing the actions of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the health authorities.
In question period at the B.C. legislature on Tuesday, Health Minister Colin Hansen said that the government appropriately handled all correspondence regarding problems with treatment.
"The members are right to be concerned," he said. "I am concerned. I want answers that are not here today."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jon Woodward