12/29/2011 02:32 EST | Updated 02/28/2012 05:12 EST

Alberta to probe medical testing procedures

Alberta will review the province's diagnostic imaging and pathology testing methods in the wake of mistakes discovered in those procedures at the Drumheller Hospital.

Health and Wellness Minister Fred Horne said Albertans deserve to have confidence in the medical care they receive.

The province is already investigating pathology testing at two other hospitals in the province.

Earlier this year, tests for prostate cancer done at an Edmonton hospital and other tests done in Calgary were also found to be faulty.

"Now with this third situation, I think it's really incumbent upon me, and it's in the best interests of everything, to roll all these reviews up into one to look at these issues on a province-wide basis," said Horne.

Alberta Health Services began reviewing the cases of 34 patients at the Drumheller Hospital after a radiologist misread their CT scans, ultrasounds and X-rays over a six-week period this fall.

It is not known how many of the 34 patients might require a change in treatment, said Alberta Health Services Thursday.

The cases are being reviewed in detail now, in consultation with the patients’ physicians and independent radiologists reviewing the interpretations.

The radiologist was experienced and had been at the hospital for an extensive period of time, said Dr. Chris Eagle, AHS president and chief executive officer.

The radiologist was asked to take a leave of absence and is no longer in the country, he said.

All patients will be notified as the tests are re-read, whether or not there is a recommendation to change treatment.

“Our physician leaders are taking the right and responsible action — acknowledge when an error has occurred, investigate immediately and keep patients informed as soon as we have information about their care,” said Eagle.

As a result of the findings, an expanded review of the physician’s interpretations of all CT scans performed at the Drumheller Hospital over the last six months — about 1,300 cases — is now underway and cases will be re-read on a prioritized basis. The review is supposed to

"I apologize to those who have been affected," said Horne.

Any patient who had diagnostic imaging as part of their care at any time in the past six months in the Drumheller area, which includes Trochu, Three Hills, Hanna and communities within that area, can call an information line supported by Health Link Alberta at 1-866-301-2668 for more information.