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Nfld region to start random checks of DI reports

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Early next year, the Eastern Health Authority in Newfoundland will institute random peer audits of the work of its radiologists, according to a report in the Canadian Press. The move comes after a high profile review which found that a suspended Newfoundland radiologist misread 11% of his exams and overlooked seemingly obvious problems like tumours, broken bones and cases of pneumonia.

“Our radiologists believe that a program such as this will reduce the range of acceptable variance for radiology reports,” said Louise Jones, interim CEO of the Eastern Health Authority. “In this particular instance, this is a very good thing. We are really ahead of the pack.”

There are currently no quality assurance programs for radiology tests in Canada, even though the scientific literature suggests anywhere from 2% to 20% of radiology tests can be inaccurate.

The radiologist at the centre of the controversy, Dr. Fred Kasirye, was hired at the Burin Peninsula Health Centre in southern Newfoundland last November. But in May he was suspended without pay after colleagues at the hospital raised concerns over his procedures and decision-making.

The provincial government then ordered Eastern Health to carry out a review of the 6,412 X-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds and fluoroscopies read by Dr. Kasirye.

The review, conducted by more than 20 other radiologists, found that Kasirye misread 708 exams. It also concluded that 21 of his patients whose exams were misread have died, but not as a result of the errors.

Still, there could be some sick patients of Dr. Fred Kasirye who have missed out on important therapies as a result of his poor analyses.

“There have been pneumonias that have been missed, there’s been fractures that have been missed, there’s been some tumours that have been missed,” Jones said during a news conference. “We did not go back to quantify that. We had over 5,000 reports that were going out and we left that in the hands of the physicians and the patients themselves.”

“We recognize that the review took some time to complete, however this was a very complex process and it was necessary for us to take the time to ensure that we had accurate information to report to our patients, physicians and their families,” Jones said.

“We provide great health care ... the full review that we did was to ensure that people had the best healthcare that they possibly could.”

In recent months, Eastern Health, which oversees 290,000 patients, has faced a barrage of questions surrounding the quality of its healthcare and its willingness to release information to the public.

Days before it announced Dr. Kasirye’s suspension, sworn affidavits filed with the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court showed that flawed breast cancer test results were given to more than 300 patients.

George Tilley, then the health board’s CEO, apologized for the “confusion” that came about after failing to fully disclose results of a review that discovered the botched breast cancer tests. Two months later, Tilley resigned.

Eastern Health is now the subject of a judicial inquiry and class-action lawsuit for the error-prone breast cancer tests.