Message to the Community from Niagara Health System President Dr. Suzanne Johnston:
Quality of care is our highest priority at Niagara Health System. You will have seen recently that a number of hospitals are undertaking reviews with a view to quality improvement. NHS is also undertaking such reviews with a present focus on diagnostic imaging.
After several weeks of work by our internal team, Dr. Tom Stewart, NHS’s Chief of Staff, has engaged the services of an expert external review team of radiologists to oversee our review, focusing on the work of one radiologist.
The review will take approximately three months and involves an estimated 4,000 CT, MRI and mammography exams (excluding exams conducted as part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program). Based on expert advice and best practice, the review is looking at tests read by one radiologist in the period from May 2014 to May 2015.
This review was prompted by a patient complaint. This complaint led us to identify discrepancies with some readings of one radiologist. The external review is a proactive measure we are taking as part of our extensive due diligence in determining whether there are further concerns that need to be addressed.
We are conducting this review out of an abundance of caution, and we are not sure today if we have a problem or how anyone might have been impacted at this time.
Our experience and the experience of other healthcare organizations is that very often something missed by one physician is picked up by other colleagues in the care journey. If it is determined that any individuals are affected, be assured that we will share any unreported or unusual findings with them and their physician immediately. In most cases, these reviews end up impacting a very small percentage of people.
Patients and physicians with questions or concerns can call our access line for assistance. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the direct telephone number is 905-397-1905. Please have your health card number available.
I am sorry for the concern the news of this review may cause. Our number one priority is the people we serve. As we work through this important review, our hospitals will continue to deliver the best possible care, and we will make ourselves available via our direct line to anyone who may have questions or concerns. We are asking the public to remain calm as we conduct this review as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
In closing, I would like to reaffirm Niagara Health System’s commitment to continuously strive to be the safest health system for all of our patients. When required, we will seek external advice to make sure we are meeting the mark.