British Columbia

Thousands of Northern B.C. patients' X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds may have been misread

A team of Vancouver radiologists is reviewing thousands of X-rays, CT scans and ultrasounds from a Terrace hospital, over concerns about possible errors.

Medical audit finds 'inconsistencies' in reading of 8,400 radiology images at Terrace hospital

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)

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 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)

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. 

Patients with concerns are advised to contact their family doctor.

Concerns about potential mistakes in radiology readings have made headlines in Quebec, Alberta, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. 

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