North

All patients contacted after diagnostic imaging glitch in N.W.T.

N.W.T. Health Minister Glen Abernethy says all eight patients whose diagnostic imaging reports didn't go directly to their doctor or nurse have now been contacted.

'Eight people were missed. This is a big deal. This is critical,' says N.W.T. health minister

N.W.T. Health Minister Glen Abernethy: 'Eight people were missed. This is a big deal. This is critical.' (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

All patients whose diagnostic imaging reports didn't go directly to their doctor or nurse have now been contacted, the N.W.T.'s health minister said Friday morning.

In all, Glen Abernethy said, eight patients did not receive the proper follow-up care during the four months that a software glitch was preventing diagnostic imaging reports from automatically going directly to the doctor or nurse who ordered the imaging. 

Abernethy declined to discuss the seriousness of the health issues of those affected, saying that he's "not a clinician," but he did say the department is taking the problem seriously.

"Eight people were missed," Abernethy said. "This is a big deal. This is critical."

The software glitch affected 1,427 reports in all. Of those:

  • 844 of the reports were normal, which meant the patients wouldn't have been contacted;
  • 445 required future follow up;
  • and 138 required immediate follow up.

Of the 138, the vast majority of the reports did make their way to the ordering doctors or nurses, even though they weren't directly included on the digital faxes.

"What we've learned is that many of the redundancies that have been put in place actually worked," Abernethy said.

Those same redundancies may also be the reason why it took so long — from April 9 to Aug. 6 — to identify the problem in the system.

"It surprises me that we didn't learn about this before," Abernethy said. "But as I said, the redundancies were working.

"The fact is most people were getting the information."

An external review into the incident has already been ordered. 

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