39 Quebecers wrongly treated for
QUEBEC CITY –
Thirty-nine Quebec women with breast cancer did not receive the right
chemotherapy treatment because of erroneous pathology tests, the
province’s health ministry has confirmed.
Of those 39 women, five have died since the faulty tests were revealed
earlier this year.
Quebec health officials revealed the results of the breast cancer
retests earlier this month, six months after the province promised to
review the pathology results for some 3,000 women in the province.
Officials, including Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc (pictured), said
women and families affected by erroneous testing would be fully informed
of the situation. Earlier media reports indicated the government was not
going to contact families of patients who had died during retesting for
The treatment received by thousands of women was questioned earlier this
year, after a report from a Quebec pathologist suggested there were
disparities in their breast cancer tests.
Last summer, Quebec’s Health Ministry confirmed that as many as 3,000
pathology tests done between April 2008 and June 2009 may have been
The tests are done to determine the appropriate course of chemotherapy
treatment according to the type of breast cancer.
In recent years, cases of errors made in pathology have emerged in other
provinces, as well. Laboratory science analysts have commented that
Canadian provinces have pared too much funding from lab testing and need
to invest more in human resources, technology and quality control.
Robert Michel, editor of the Dark Report and an international laboratory
management analyst, commented at a conference in Toronto in the fall:
“For the last two decades, Canada has underfunded lab medicine, and
we’re now seeing the disruption that happens.”
He outlined some of the lab catastrophes that have occurred in recent
years in Canadian provinces:
• 2005: breast cancer testing errors in Newfoundland and Labrador;
• 2008: pathology testing problems in Ontario, Manitoba and New
• 2009: breast cancer testing problems in Quebec, with serious quality
Posted Dec. 24, 2009