Toll-free patient line and external firm to support radiology review (09/10/05)

NB 1501

Oct. 5, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The provincial government will identify an external firm to review selected radiology examinations, and it is also establishing a toll-free information line to provide timely information to the public. Health Minister Mary Schryer said the provincial government is taking these steps in response to an announcement made today by Regional Health Authority (RHA) A.

"Patient safety is paramount," said Schryrer. "The Department of Health will be fully supporting every effort taken to respond to this matter. I have full confidence in the ability of our regional health authorities to respond to this situation, and we will work together to ensure public confidence is maintained in the health-care system."

Earlier today, RHA A released the results of a recent audit of 332 exams of a former Grand Falls-area radiologist. This audit showed 16 per cent of the exams (53 exams) required additional follow-up with the patient's physician.

As a result of these findings, and to ensure patient safety and security, an external firm will be contracted to review six specific types of medical procedures: ultrasounds, chest x-rays, fluoroscopy exams, venograms, Doppler ultrasounds and mammography exams conducted by the former radiologist between 2006 and 2009.

The Horizon Health Network (formerly RHA B) will also be included in the review because the former radiologist provided some radiology services within Zone 3 of this health authority (the Plaster Rock, Perth-Andover and Bath areas).

The Department of Health is working to identify an independent firm to assist with the case reviews, the minister said.

"This work will be carried out as quickly as possible so that patients whose exams were conducted by the former radiologist may have confidence in the accuracy of their diagnoses," said Schryer. "Providing these patients with peace of mind is the highest priority."

To help health authorities communicate with patients, the Department of Health has established a toll-free information line: 1-877-795-3785. It will be active starting Tuesday, Oct. 6, and it will be available for patients and family members to obtain information.

"Timely information is important to provide peace of mind and reassurance to patients and their families," said Schryer. "Our government will be providing all necessary resources required to support the efforts of the regional health authorities throughout this time."


MEDIA CONTACTS: Sonya Gilks, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-3506; Lydia Dupéré, Regional Health Authority A, 506-544-3678, Sonya Green-Haché, Horizon Health Network, 506-623-5523.