Newfoundland authorities investigate imaging discrepancies

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Central Health is currently in the process of investigating a selected group of diagnostic imaging reports read at James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre in Gander, Newfoundland. The current imaging quality review comes on the heels of a six-month investigation of 14,000 imaging studies originally interpreted by four radiologists in British Columbia.

The investigation involves some reports produced by two visiting radiologists during the periods of October through December of 2010, May and June of 2011 and July through September 2011. During these periods of time, Central Health is aware of six instances where reports were based on a patient’s previous test rather than on the most recent one.

“The purpose of the review is to ensure that patient reports are based on the correct and most recent image,” Karen McGrath, CEO of Central Health in Newfoundland, said in a statement. “While we are still in the early stages of the review and over the next number of days will be confirming additional information, such as the number of reports that will need to be reviewed, we do feel it is important to inform people that this investigation is ongoing and to outline our process for the public.”

Central Health is developing a database which will allow the organization to identify the number of reports that will need review. It is expected that this information will be available by Nov. 7.

Patients and their physicians who have images included in this review process will be notified within 10 days, the organization said.

Once the number of reports that need to be reviewed has been finalized, all of these reports will be reviewed by a radiologist to ensure the report is based on the correct image(s).

Depending on the number of reports that need to be reviewed, it is anticipated that this quality review will take between three and four weeks to complete. Once this process has been completed, the findings will be reported to the public, Central Health said.

The quality review in British Columbia, which concluded in September, revealed that multiple patients were misdiagnosed or faced delayed treatment based on the initial interpretation of one of the four radiologists. Following the investigation, the British Columbia Health Ministry launched an action plan in an effort to safeguard against similar incidents and restore public confidence.