Probe ordered into misinterpreted CT scans

Several B.C. patients may have cancer that went undetected because two radiologists misinterpreted the results of CT scans performed at hospitals in Abbotsford and Powell River last year.

Patient receiving a CT scan for cancer.

Patient receiving a CT scan for cancer.

Several B.C. patients may have cancer that went undetected because two radiologists who were either unqualified or inexperienced misinterpreted the results of CT scans performed at hospitals in Abbotsford and Powell River last year.

Health minister Colin Hansen has ordered an investigation into the cases of misdiagnosis to determine how the radiology physicians in question were allowed to read the scans.

Fraser Health Authority CEO Dr. Nigel Murray said there may be untreated cancers in some of the 10 patients scanned at Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre where misinterpreted scans may have contributed to patients receiving incorrect treatment.

“They could include missed cancers,” Murray said. “Approximately three or four could be in that category.”

False positives included one case where the radiologist wrongly identified a pulmonary embolysm in the lungs of an Abbotsford patient, but Murray said the patient’s doctor did not rely entirely on the scan result and treated on the basis of other evidence as well.

“At this time we believe there was no inappropriate treatment given due to false positives.”

The locum radiologist in question performed a total of 170 CT scan interpretations in the eastern Fraser Valley between mid-August and mid-September 2010, most at Abbotsford but about a dozen in Chilliwack, where no discrepancies were found.

“We are still in the process of contacting all the patients individually,” Murray said.

“All of their doctors have been contacted and are taking the appropriate actions.”

One of the 10 patients where scan interpretation problems were flagged has since died, a case Murray said is under investigation but could be due to natural causes.

Fraser Health and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority are notifying a total of 3,400 patients who may have been affected by the work of the two radiologists.

The Powell River radiologist worked there full time from April to October 2010 and was not qualified to read CT scans.

The Abbotsford radiologist worked there temporarily for a month and had been involved in a similar incident of analyzing scans in the Cranbrook area last year.

The locum radiologist at Abbotsford was from out of province, but was professionally credentialed and licensed in B.C., however the health authority was alerted in mid-December to performance concerns about his work, triggering an investigation.

Besides potential cancers, the scans may have involved scans of organs or heart conditions, Vancouver Coastal officials said.

There were a total of 900 cases in Powell River where suspect scan interpretations were re-interpreted by qualified radiologists and then adjudicated again by another group of doctors on Vancouver Island.

A total of 130 of those cases were found to require further checks with patients.

The Powell River radiologist also handled obstetrical ultrasound scans – involving 2,300 pregnant women, or two-thirds of the total cases. In most of those cases the babies have already been born.

Neither of the two radiologists are now practising in B.C., although one may be working in Ontario.

Dr. David Ostrow, CEO of Vancouver Coastal, said he is also worried some cancers went undetected due to the faulty readings at Powell River.

“It absolutely should not have occurred,” he said, adding he was “deeply troubled” that procedures of the health authorities and the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons were ineffective.

“We do have a screening process and that screening process failed,” Ostrow said.

“The ball was dropped in a whole bunch of places.”

Vancouver Coastal officials knew about the suspect scan results since last October but did not notify the health ministry until Feb. 4.

Hansen said he only learned of the Fraser Health incident Thursday (Feb. 10), several weeks after it was uncovered.

The CEOs said they had to perform due diligence before telling Victoria.

“I want to apologize for the stress and any new anxiety this may cause,” Hansen said.

“The incidents raise important questions that need to be answered as quickly as possible so all British Columbians can have confidence in their health care system.”

Hansen has appointed B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council chair Dr. Doug Cochrane to conduct a two-part investigation of the incidents and report publicly.

Cochrane is charged with ensuring within 30 days that all radiologists now working in B.C. are correctly credentialed.

He’s also been given six months to examine all aspects of the incidents and make recommendations to ensure they are never repeated.

NDP critic Adrian Dix said the fact it took the health authorities months to notify government of the incidents reflects a serious problem of accountability.

“They appeared more concerned, it appears, with insulating the government than ensuring there’s accountability for what goes on,” Dix said. “Whenever that happens, it shakes public trust.”

Fraser Health says all 170 patients affected in the Fraser Valley will receive a registered letter and the 10 patients or families with the most urgent concerns have or will be directly contacted.

Patients with concerns can contact the Fraser Health Patient Care Quality Office at 1-877-880-8823 or email pcqoffice@fraserhealth.ca.

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Dennis Saulnier rescued his daughters, two-year-old Brinley (left) and four-year-old Keegan, after their truck was driven off the road and into Cultus Lake on May 16, 2020. Reporter Jenna Hauck has been recognized by the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association for her story on the rescue. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Chilliwack Progress, Hope Standard staff take home 7 Ma Murray awards

Jenna Hauck, Eric Welsh, Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock all earn journalism industry recognition

(Unsplash.com)
Protecting our elders: It’s up to all of us to look out for them

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Most Read