VICTORIA – The B.C. government is investigating its third incident of problems with diagnostic medical imaging, this time at a hospital in Comox.
An unnamed radiologist at St. Joseph’s General Hospital has had his privileges to read CT scans suspended after “significant errors” were discovered, the health ministry announced Monday. The diagnostic scans are used to detect cancer and heart conditions.
The Comox doctor has had credentials to read CT scans for 30 years. He has surrendered his hospital privileges at St. Joseph’s while the investigation is conducted.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons previously suspended radiologists working in Powell River and Abbotsford after similar deficiencies in reading and interpreting scans were discovered.
The deficiencies at Comox were identified in mid-January, but the situation wasn’t reported to the Vancouver Island Health Authority until Friday.
Health Minister Colin Hansen said the Comox case has been added to an investigation being conducted by Dr. Doug Cochrane, chair of the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council. Cochrane has been assigned to determine within the next month if all radiologists working in B.C. are properly trained to interpret diagnostic scans.
The Abbotsford case involved about 170 scans in August and September of 2010, performed by a vacation relief radiologist. Patients were to receive notice in registered letters from the Fraser Health Authority.
The Powell River radiologist worked there from April to October 2010, and was not qualified to read CT scans. A total of 900 scans examined by that doctor were reviewed by qualified specialists, and 130 were found to require further checks with patients.
The Powell River radiologist also handled ultrasound scans of 2,300 pregnant women.
Hansen apologized to patients who may not have received proper service from the hospitals, and expressed confidence that Cochrane’s review would provide the answers the health ministry needs.