Provinces move to ensure quality of
Most provinces have improved the certification of machines used in
breast cancer screening programs. According to the Canadian Association
of Radiologists, the number of unaccredited mammography machines now
stands at 79, compared with 154 last spring.
Last year, an investigation by the Globe and Mail newspaper revealed
that thousands of women were being directed to facilities using
equipment that might be too old or of questionable quality, or where the
facility’s accreditation with the CAR had lapsed.
“Since the article ran, and the pressure, the Canadian situation
drastically changed,” Normand Laberge, chief executive officer of the
CAR, told the Globe.
Manitoba and New Brunswick quickly moved to make accreditation
mandatory, with the latter province setting a target for the end of this
fiscal year. All machines in Newfoundland are now accredited.
Quebec has long demanded breast-screening mammograms be done on
accredited machines, as do Alberta and Nova Scotia.
Ontario, however, continues to have the highest number of unaccredited
machines, with 34 of them located in hospitals and clinics, Mr. Laberge
David Spencer, spokesman for Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman,
said the province is “looking at options to bring all mammography sites
in the province in line with a comparable set of accreditation
Accreditation involves testing machines and scrutinizing the
qualifications of the people operating them and the doctors interpreting
the mammography films.
While unaccredited machines in clinics and hospitals may be performing
excellent mammography, there is no external proof of that, experts say.
Of the 656 mammography machines across Canada, 79 are unaccredited. Of
those, 20 are likely disconnected and the remaining 59 are being used on
patients, Mr. Laberge said.
Typically, facilities will post a sign saying they have accreditation.
However, the radiologists association includes a list of accredited
facilities on its website, http://www.car.ca.
Facilities not listed could also be in the process of gaining