British Columbia

'Clinically significant' mistakes: 700 patients' X-rays and scans misread at Terrace hospital

700 patients in northwestern BC have been told mistakes were made in the analysis of their X-rays and scans at the Terrace hospital. But there are no plans to track if patients were harmed as a result.

Northern Health says it has no plans to monitor whether radiologist's mistakes harmed patients

A review by radiologists from Vancouver General Hospital found "clinically significant" problems in the interpretation of the X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds of 700 patients at Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital. (CBC News)

Northern Health has notified 700 patients and their doctors of "clinically significant" errors in the interpretation of their X-rays, ultrasounds and CT scans at the hospital in Terrace.

But Northern Health has no plans to monitor or track whether those errors end up harming patients.

'We cannot speculate ... as to ... adverse impact'

"We cannot speculate or provide any information as to whether there has been any specific adverse impact," said Northern Health communications officer Eryn Collins in a written statement.

Any follow up is now the responsibility of family physicians, said Collins. 

Collins said the corrected radiological results have now been shared with the affected patients' doctors "so that they can determine if a discrepancy resulted in any change in diagnosis or treatment and follow up accordingly." 

"We are not privy to those doctor-patient diagnosis and treatment discussions," Collins told CBC News in an email.

700 patients told of 'clinically significant" errors'

The errors came to light after Northern Health asked a team of radiologists from Vancouver General Hospital to take a second look at more than 8,400 images taken by one radiologist over a five month period at Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital.

Officials raised concerns in February about 8,400 images analyzed by one radiologist at Terrace's Mills Memorial Hospital between October, 2016 and January, 2017. An audit found 10.3 per cent of the images hadn't been properly interpreted. (Northern Health)

Collins says the expert review "resulted in a different interpretation that is considered clinically significant" for 10.3 per cent of the images.

"The radiologist who reread an image came to a different conclusion about what it showed," said Collins.

Northern Health doesn't plan to monitor outcomes 

Collins says the results have the potential to alter patient follow up or treatment.

But since imaging tests are just one factor in diagnosis and treatment, "it doesn't necessarily mean there are clinical concerns or adverse health impacts to the individuals affected," said Collins.

The radiologist who misread the images has been on voluntary leave.

A medical advisory committee will now advise Northern Health's board about the individual's future professional practice. 

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