Thousands of X-rays and scans read in B.C.'s Interior may have 'inaccuracies'

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Another health authority in B.C. is calling into question the work of a radiologist who was responsible for reading thousands of X-rays and scans over a two-month period.

Interior Health says it will be reviewing nearly 2,200 X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound and diagnostic mammography reports read by a doctor who was working temporarily in the Kootenay-Boundary region in May of 2011 and June of 2014.

"The concern has been raised the interpretations may not have been complete reporting or had inaccuracies," said Dr. Ron Collins from the health agency.

The news comes a day after 700 patients in northwestern B.C. were informed of errors in the analysis of their scans at a Terrace hospital. More than 8,400 images from 5,278 patients were reviewed in that case.

This latest incident impacts 1,790 patients who visited hospitals and health centres from Nakusp, B.C. to Grand Forks who may have had a range of medical issues.

"It could be anything from soft tissue injury related to sports up to something much more serious," said Collins.

A proactive step

Radiologists at Kelowna General hospital will be rereading the scans over the next four weeks.

Regardless of whether there are discrepancies, Interior Health says new reports will be sent to family doctors and patients will receive a follow-up letter.

However, the health authority is trying to avoid alarming the public.

It says it is one visiting radiologist whose reports are being reviewed and scans are only one diagnostic tool used by doctors.

Dr. William Sui, president of the B.C. Radiological Society, said the review is a proactive step.

He said that, though large numbers of scans are being reported, the likelihood of an error that has negatively affected a patient is low, and radiology is just one tool that doctors use in their diagnoses.

"Just by stating that this radiologist worked for a certain period of time and recorded this number of cases — the number of cases that may actually become [of] clinical significance will be a very small percentage of that," Sui said.

In the meantime, a designated a phone line and e-mail address have been developed to allow patients to check if their images were reviewed by the radiologist in question.

With files from Bob Keating and Belle Puri.