Third B.C. radiologist probed over scan results
A third B.C. radiologist is now under investigation over the questionable quality of medical scan results, the provincial government announced Monday.
The newest probe involves a long time licensed and credentialed radiologist at St Joseph's General Hospital in Comox, who has worked at the facility for more than 30 years and has been "well respected by his peers," according to B.C.'s health ministry.
The CEO of the hospital brought his concerns about the quality of some of the radiologist's CT scan reads to the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and the Ministry of Health Services late Friday.
VIHA says a number of the doctor's colleagues had concerns about his work in January, and one asked for a second read on a number of scans he had initially interpreted.
Those reads apparently turned up a number of significant errors, which prompted St. Joseph's to suspend the radiologist's CT scan reading privileges and begin to review more of the findings.
Meanwhile, the radiologist has withdrawn his privileges at the hospital on the advice of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., pending the outcome of the review.
VIHA says it has put together a team to gather evidence in the case and identify any patients who are potentially at high risk, as well as their family doctors and medical specialists.
Scan reading concerns
On Friday, health officials in the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Coastal regions said they've been looking into thousands of possibly questionable medical scans.
The probe involves CT scans and ultrasounds performed by a full-time radiologist in Powell River between April and October and a part-time radiologist who practiced in the Fraser Valley last August and September. Neither is currently practicing in B.C.
The Ministry of Health says the pair lacked "either the appropriate credentials or experience" to properly interpret the results of both ultrasounds and CT scans -- and it appears several cancer diagnoses were missed as a result.
"Discrepancies have been discovered," said Dr. Nigel Murray, president of Fraser Health Authority. "We are finding some cases were false positives."
The radiologists saw nearly 3,400 patients, all of whom are being notified of the situation. Reviews by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health indicate patient care was not compromised in the majority of cases, but roughly 140 require further investigation.
The part-time radiologist was also involved in about 200 cases in the Cranbrook area, but doctors say none of those patients' care was affected.
Red flags and similarities
The health authority says the issues around the Comox radiologist "appear similar" to the issues in Powell River and Abbotsford. They say further investigation is crucial to alleviate patient fears.
Health Minister Colin Hansen said Monday he was "deeply disturbed" by the newest developments and said he understood the concern it would cause patients in the Comox Valley.
"I want to assure them we will act swiftly to get the facts and ensure any medical follow-up that may be required is dealt with as quickly as possible," he said in a statement issued to media.
Dr. Doug Cochrane, chair of the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council, has been assigned to head the two-part independent probe.
Ministry staff met with Cochrane, as well as members of the B.C.
Radiological Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. to determine what actions need to be taken immediately "focusing first on community hospitals where radiologists may be operating in solo practices - to ensure they have appropriate peer support."
Hansen said the investigation will ensure all B.C. radiologists have appropriate credentials to operate in the province and the training to "ensure high quality patient care."
Anyone with concerns is urged to call their family doctor or HealthLink BC at 811.