Montreal

Quebec radiologists threatened with lawsuit for balking at ultrasounds

A patients' rights group in Quebec is seeking to launch a class-action lawsuit against radiologists in the province who are refusing to take on patients at their private clinics. The potential lawsuit is part of the fallout from Quebec's decision to cover the cost of private-sector ultrasounds.

Patients' rights group calls out private-sector radiologists refusing to take appointments

Some Quebec radiologists say they are unwilling to provide ultrasounds until the province clarifies how they will be compensated. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A patients' rights group in Quebec is seeking to launch a class-action lawsuit against radiologists in the province who are refusing to take on patients at their private clinics. 

The potential lawsuit is part of the fallout from the Quebec government's decision last year to cover the cost of private-sector ultrasounds.

Since late December, radiologists have been required to forward the costs of ultrasounds to the public health insurance agency, RAMQ, instead of having patients pick up the bill.

The initiative was meant to cut lengthy wait-times for public-sector ultrasounds. But many patients say securing appointments at private imaging clinics has been difficult since the policy change took effect.

The Quebec government still hasn't reached a deal with the province's radiologists, establishing how much they will be reimbursed for the ultrasounds. 

That has prompted some clinics to balk at taking on new patients.

"We are entrepreneurs, and we have to know how much we are going to receive" said Martin Lacasse, owner of a private imaging clinic in Gatineau who acknowledged having cancelled about 50 ultrasounds.

Quebec Health Minister Gaetan Barrette has accused radiologists of taking patients "hostage." (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

But the Council for the Protection of Patients said that is an unacceptable response. 

"Medical specialists can't refuse or neglect to offer care to patients for whom they will nevertheless be compensated following a ministerial decision," said Paul Brunet, who chairs the patients' right group.

​Brunet wants patients who have had faced difficulties making appointments for private-sector ultrasounds to contact his group. 

Despite no deal being in place with Quebec's radiologists, Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has promised the province will pay the clinics' costs plus professional fees.

Earlier this month, Barrette accused radiologists of "taking patients hostage" with their tactics.

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