Saskatoon-Patients and physicians are being notified about a problem with retrieving diagnostic images stored in the provincial Picture Archiving and Communication system (PACS). An investigation into the cause of the issue is underway by Philips Canada, the company contracted to operate the PACS system offered to regions through the provincial agency eHealth Saskatchewan.
PACS contains patient's diagnostic images or pictures, such as CT scans and x-rays and allows the images to be accessible digitally by the patient's care team throughout the province. Images, once placed in the system, are assessed by radiologists and viewed by physicians so that a physician can develop a care plan for the patient and provide accompanying treatment.
The issue was discovered by Saskatoon Health Region on August 12, when a patient's images could not be located, and Philips Canada was notified. On August 15, Philips confirmed the images were not recoverable. An investigation immediately began to determine if the issue was affecting other patient images. To date, the issue appears to be limited to testing facilities within the Saskatoon Health Region.
So far, Philips Canada has confirmed that diagnostic imaging results for 206 patients are missing and unrecoverable. These imaging results are from tests conducted in Saskatoon Health Region between March and June 2016. The investigation shows the images were initially assessed by radiologists and that a diagnostic report for each test was provided to the physicians involved in the patient's care. The assessment reports prepared by radiologists are still available within the system.
Saskatoon Health Region has alerted all physicians to the issue and is contacting each impacted patient and their respective physicians with details regarding the missing images.
"Because a piece of diagnostic history is now missing for these patients and their healthcare team, physicians may need to ask these patients to undergo additional examinations to have a more complete history of their medical progress. We are so sorry for the hardship and worry this creates for patients and families," says Saskatoon Health Region's Department Head of Medical Imaging Dr. Paul Babyn. "We are anxiously awaiting the result of the investigation by Philips Canada to find a cause and solution to this issue as we know this has caused added stress and anxiety for our patients and families, along with our care teams. We all want to be assured that this system error has been corrected and our trust in the PACS system is restored."
Philips Canada is working to discover the root cause of the system error. While the investigation proceeds, Philips Canada has increased monitoring of all our patient images in the system. Given the Philips investigation is ongoing, the total number of patients that could be impacted by the error is still unknown. "We are committed to supporting our regional partners to deliver safe patient care and will continue to work with Philips to ensure this issue is resolved and prevented in the future," Denise Junek, eHealth VP of Culture, Collaboration and Innovation.
Affected patients will be directly contacted by the Health Region. However, any patients with questions can contact our Client Representative Office at 306-655-0250 or 1-866-655-5066 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.