Alberta Launches Imaging and Pathology Review

After mistakes have been detected in three different cities in Alberta since November 2011, the province has launched a review of diagnostic imaging and pathology services. An “experienced” radiologist was identified as making mistakes of “considerable concern” in the CT scans of 34 patients at the Drumheller Hospital.

Dawn Walton of The Globe reports,

“This is not about blaming the people that deliver the care,” Health and Wellness Minister Fred Horne told reporters on Thursday. “This is about answering some very fundamental questions about checks and balances in our health-care system.”

Mr. Horne said the review, which could take months, should answer questions about the safety and quality of care. Still, he remains confident that the system works.

“I have no reason to believe that patient care is at risk,” he said.

B.C. recently completed a study in 2011 called the Cochrane Report which looked at physician credentialing in medical imaging and quality assurance and peer review of medical imaging reports.  The Cochrane Report, led by Dr. Doug Cochrane of the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council, also examined the response by health authorities when they learned of problems in these areas.  

 Although the Cochrane Report found that radiologists in B.C. were appropriately licensed, they recommended a province-wide concurrent peer review system for diagnostic imaging to ensure quality review, looking specifically at image interpretation and technical quality.   The need for a retrospective peer review process and a management system for oversight was also identified.  These recommendations may frame the analysis undertaken by Alberta as it looks to diagnostic imaging there. 

Cochrane Report – Phase 1

Cochrane Report – Phase 2

Omar Ha-Redeye is the Principal of Fleet Street Law, a full-service law chambers in Toronto.