Thousands of Northern B.C. patients’ X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds may have been misread – British Columbia

Thousands of patients in northwestern B.C. are being told their X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound results may have been improperly analysed.

The images were taken at Terrace’s Mills Memorial Hospital between October, 2016 and January, 2017.

“We found  some inconsistencies with the reading and reporting of medical images of one radiologist,” said Dr. Ronald Chapman, vice president of medicine for Northern Health. 

‘What was reported was not in fact … on the X-ray’

“Physicians are human,” said Chapman. “They do make mistakes.”

Chapman says a problem was first identified, Jan. 25.

“What we found in this case — what was reported, was not in fact what was on the X-ray,” he said.

Physicians are human. They do make mistakes.
– Dr. Ronald Chapman, Northern Health vice president of medicine

Officials then decided to reread all images the radiologist had analyzed.

A team of radiologists from Vancouver General Hospital is now rereading more than 8,400 images from 5,278 patients.

Asked if lives could be risk, Chapman replied, “That’s always a risk.”

Cancer patients the priority 

Chapman said cancer patients will be the first to have their images reread.

All other patients should have their results by the end of March. 

“We moved on this as quickly as we could,” said Chapman.

Northern Health says all physicians and patients will be notified in writing, whether or not the rereading shows an error.

Radiologist on voluntary leave 

 Officials say the radiologist in question is on voluntary leave as the “quality concerns” are investigated.

Officials raised concerns about images read by one radiologist at Terrace’s Mills Memorial Hospital between October, 2016 and January, 2017. (Northern Health)

Chapman noted that radiology exams are just one factor in a doctor’s diagnosis.

“It does not mean that all the original readings are inaccurate or incomplete or that a discrepancy will result in adverse health impacts,” he said. 

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