Internet slowdown led to risky decisions in Whitehorse ER

A doctor who works in the Whitehorse emergency room says he couldn't sleep after making 'best guesses' at CT scan results that would normally be interpreted by a radiologist in Calgary during a territory-wide internet slowdown earlier this week.

'It is a nervous few moments for the physician,' says ER doctor Dr. Rao Tadepalli

An emergency room doctor says he was making risky decisions earlier this week at Whitehorse General Hospital when a territory-wide internet slowdown prevented specialists from seeing CT scans and other results.

The hospital sends CT scans to Calgary via the internet for radiologists to interpret.

Dr. Rao Tadepalli says doctors have to make calculated decisions when a radiologist cannot see the scans.

"So while anything major could be picked up by the physician, if there was something of an unusual nature it wouldn't get picked up," Tadepalli says. “You're making your best guess in terms of your experience and looking at the patient. It is a nervous few moments for the physician especially in a critical cases."

Tadepalli says he couldn't sleep after his shift because of the decisions he made when the internet was slow.

He was relieved after he checked in with all his patients and they were fine.

James Low is with the Yukon Hospital Corporation.

He says the doctors can read scans to a certain degree.

"They can provide support in many situations like this. That's obviously not the preferred course of action. But in situations with a prolonged outage, that's why we would call in a radiologist to be on site at that point."

Northwestel says the internet slowdown Monday was due to a third party construction crew cutting a fibre optic line in B.C.

Internet service has since been restored to normal.


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