12/16/2014 05:00 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST

Woman waited 19 months for Gatineau hospital appointment about lump

A Gatineau woman is wondering why it took a more than a year and a half for the local hospital to get her a referral about a mysterious lump.

Caroline Barriere, 45, discovered the lump on the back of her rib cage under a bra strap last spring.

Her mother had died of cancer, so in May 2013, Barriere saw her family doctor about the lump.

She said the doctor told her that she should be seen by a specialist, and he sent a requisition to the Gatineau hospital to book an appointment.

The hospital finally called her last week — 19 months later — with an appointment to speak to a surgeon in early January.

"You know, I waited and waited and waited for months, and at one point I was sure that the hospital had lost my doctor's requisition, because it didn't make any sense to me," Barriere said.

"It's so symptomatic of the Quebec health system in Gatineau."

Tracy Johnson, a researcher at the Canadian Institute of Health Information, said it's difficult to say just how bad the delay for referrals is in Gatineau.

CIHI tracks wait times for so-called "priority" surgical procedures, but that's only after a patient is diagnosed.

No one at the Gatineau hospital was available for an interview on Monday.