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Diagnostic imaging

British Columbia probes work of three radiologists

VANCOUVER – Thousands of patients in the Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver Island and Fraser Health regions in B.C. are being contacted about CT scans interpreted by three radiologists who lacked the appropriate credentials or experience.

B.C. Health Services Minister Colin Hansen (pictured) has appointed the chair of the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council, Dr. Doug Cochrane, to lead an independent investigation.

His investigation will centre on Dr. Mansukhlal Mavji Parmar, a full-time radiologist in the coastal community of Powell River and an unnamed temporary radiologist, who practised briefly in the eastern Fraser Valley in Fall 2010. The replacement radiologist also practised for several weeks in the Cranbrook area of eastern B.C.

Also being investigated is a radiologist at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox.

The ministry said the three lacked the appropriate credentials or experience to analyze CT scans.

The Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities have begun to notify roughly 3,400 patients and their doctors as part of their internal investigation.

Among those contacted Friday was Janet Baird, of Powell River. Baird’s father, John Moser, died of cancer in January, after deteriorating for months. Moser had a scan in Powell River in August and was told the examination revealed nothing to be concerned about. Another scan just before Christmas revealed cancer so widespread through his body that his case was terminal.

“My dad was suffering. He was going to die,” Baird told CBC News. “But if they had got the right results ... they could have made him at least more comfortable. But he suffered, needlessly, because of incompetence.”

The identity of the radiologist who analyzed Moser’s August CT scan has not been made public.

Hansen said authorities are now doing what they can to rectify the breakdown in the staff screening process.

“My first concern is with the patients and their families and I want to apologize for the stress and anxiety this may cause,” said Hansen.

“Our government takes these issues very seriously. I have called on the health authorities to work with those patients and their doctors to ensure they receive any follow-up tests and care that may be required as quickly as possible.”

Cochrane’s review will start with a 30-day investigation to ensure all radiologists currently working in B.C. have the proper credentials.

Later, he will examine all aspects of the incidents involving the three radiologists.

Posted February 24, 2011