Cumberland woman demands judicial inquiry

Three years ago, Yvonne Kafka of Cumberland demanded a full medical review when she felt her mammogram and ultrasound at St. Joseph’s General Hospital were misinterpreted.



Three years ago, Yvonne Kafka of Cumberland demanded a full medical review when she felt her mammogram and ultrasound at St. Joseph’s General Hospital were misinterpreted.

She had been told she didn’t have cancer, but a biopsy she said she had to beg for found that she did.

She’s speaking out for patients once again now that the doctor who did those tests in 2008 has been included in a provincial investigation into the quality of medical scans in B.C.

“I was given a very painful procedure — a sentinel node biopsy — and was injured by that procedure because regulations were not followed,” said Kafka. “Nobody with credentials was in the hospital to do the appropriate procedure. There was no summary of the procedure, and it was documented by the surgeon that there was no summary, but I have a copy of the procedure on disk.”

At that time in 2008, Kafka asked for an independent review by Dr. Doug Cochrane — the chairman of the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council.

Cochrane was appointed last week to investigate radiologists in Comox, Powell River and Abbotsford amid concerns about the quality of scans and about credentials and qualifications.

Today, Kafka is calling for a judicial inquiry, as she feels Cochrane has not been given enough authority.

“We need more than Dr. Cochrane because I believe the government is tying Dr. Cochrane’s hands behind his back,” she said.

Kafka is asking for a judge with full subpoena authority to be appointed, as was the case in Newfoundland and Labrador when a judicial inquiry found that 386 patients received mistaken results on their breast cancer tests.

“We talked to the NDP and said we are the expert patient; we have a right to say the terms of reference (for the investigation), and we demanded the terms be expanded for more to be included,” added Kafka’s friend Lorna Clark.

Clark hopes the government will listen to the patients.

“Politicians have to realize sometimes the housewives have the wisdom where (they) only have the knowledge,” she said. “The wisdom is the solution, and the knowledge is the problem, so start listening to the patient.”

While the Ministry of Health Services and St. Joseph’s General Hospital president and CEO Michael Pontus cannot confirm the name of the radiologist, he has been identified in the media as Dr. Jose Zanbilowicz.

The licensed and credentialed radiologist has withdrawn his privileges to practise at the hospital, and he has taken a leave of absence of his other duties.

Patients who are concerned about scans they had at St. Joseph’s are encouraged to call the hospital at 1-877-336-1406, call Healthlink BC at 8-1-1 or call their family physician.

In a media statement released Tuesday, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia (CPSBC) is assuring the public that none of the physicians involved in the provincial investigation is currently practising in this province.

“The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia is deeply concerned about the recent issue of misdiagnosed CT scans,” it stated. “For legal reasons, the College is unable to comment on individual registrants at this time. The College can confirm that it is conducting a full investigation of all concerns pertaining to these physicians. If this investigation leads to formal disciplinary action, this information will be made available to the public.”

The provincial New Democrats are calling on the Liberals to take responsibility for their failure to take action, despite knowing about concerns related to three B.C. radiologists now under investigation.

“Thousands of patients are concerned about the revelation that errors were made in reading CT scans by three separate radiologists across the province,” NDP interim leader Dawn Black said in a press release. “These British Columbians are asking if these reports are just the tip of the iceberg. The people of B.C. want to know what specific steps the government has taken to ensure patient safety won’t be compromised any further.”

Black also called on the Liberals to explain why the government was unaware of the breaches when the health authorities were fully aware.

She said former health minister George Abbott knew about concerns in 2008 and the government, including former health minister Kevin Falcon, has known about the investigation for four months.