Inadequate monitors spur review of three years' worth of mammograms in Canada

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | September 02, 2022
Women's Health
Central Health is reviewing mammograms from the last three years following the discovery of inadequate monitors used to read them.
Central Health in Canada is re-reviewing nearly three years of mammograms for about 3,000 patients after discovering that monitors it was using to read diagnostic scans were inadequate.

The regional health authority oversees care regulations for an area in Newfoundland and Labrador that includes Fogo Island, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor. It has six workstations that use five-megapixel monitors and others that rely on three-megapixel ones.

This violates Health Canada and the Canadian Association of Radiologists requirements, which mandate that workstations include two monitors that each have a screen resolution of at least five megapixels, according to the CBC.

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Central Health has hired external radiologist Dr. Nancy Wadden to review all images read on the three-megapixel monitors between November 1, 2019 and August 19, 2022. So far, two “potential discrepancies or deferring interpretations” and one error have been found.

"Our sample review suggests the occurrence presents a low risk to patients,” said Central Health CEO Andrée Robichaud in a virtual conference, adding that there are no problems with the testing equipment.

As of late August, mammograms for nearly 500 patients had been reviewed. The assessment is expected to be completed in September.

While Central Health does audit its equipment, the health authority has not determined why the problem was not found for three years. It is also not sure if staff viewed mammograms using three-megapixel monitors because they work from home.

The province’s other three health authorities, Eastern Health, Western Health and Labrador-Grenfell Health, are also conducting preliminary reviews of their own imaging.

Dr. Angela Pickles, clinical chief of medical imaging for Eastern Health, told CBC it is challenging to differentiate between five-megapixel and three-megapixel monitors. "This is a constantly evolving process as things change [with] different technological advances.”

Scheduled mammograms are still being carried out at Central Health, with all images being read using the correct viewing stations.

Central Health has started an internal review to examine mammography viewing practices and prevent future incidents from occurring. Robichaud says it is unclear when that review will end.

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