OAKVILLE, ON, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - "The Ontario Association of
Radiologists (OAR) is deeply concerned that the Ministry of Health and
Long Term Care (MOHLTC) still fails to take women's health seriously by
offering a band-aid solution of $25M to fix a $74M equipment problem we
identified in a 2010 report, they chose to ignore," said OAR President,
Dr. Mark Prieditis in response to the recent equipment funding
"And, it is unconscionable that the Ministry would jeopardise women's
lives by withholding, since last November, a report containing vital
information suggesting that computed radiography (CR) mammography has a
lower cancer detection rate that other mammography equipment."
Dr. Prieditis said the report sponsored by Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) and
only made available to the OAR last Friday, underscored the urgent need
identified by Ontario radiologists two years ago.
"Had the Ministry of Health listened and acted in October 2010 on the
OAR's recommendations concerning the critical need for digital
mammography to provide Ontario women with the best diagnostic equipment
to detect breast cancer, we would not be having this crisis today."
The OAR report "Delivering Modern Digital Mammography in Ontario: A Plan to Modernise
Ontario's Mammography Equipment", clearly identified that Ontario lags behind the rest of Canada in its
adoption of digital mammography services and that the province had no
plan or stated policy to transition the province to full-field digital
mammography equipment (FFDM). The report provided a plan to transition
the approximately 150 film mammography and CR mammography units, in
place in the province in 2010, with FFDM.
CR Mammography equipment, which was approved by Health Canada, the
Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) and MOHLTC has become widely
used throughout the province because the Ontario government has
chronically underfunded the purchase and operation of FFDM diagnostic
equipment, leaving CR as the only digital option. Close to a third of
the mammography equipment in Ontario is CR.
Dr. David Jacobs, Section Chair for the Diagnostic Imaging Section of
the Ontario Medical Association, echoed Dr. Prieditis' concerns adding
that Ontario radiologists have been on record with MOH for many years
about chronic underfunding for the purchase and operation of diagnostic
equipment, particularly mammography, and that the Ministry should work
with radiologists to find an acceptable solution.
"The significance of this failure to listen to radiology experts is that
an unknown number of the 1.1 million women who annually receive a
breast screen or diagnostic mammogram have had their health care
compromised," Dr. Jacobs said.
"Ironically, in May 2012 Health Minister, Deb Matthews, promised there
would be no impact on Ontario patients when she unilaterally slashed
all radiology services and further reduced overhead/operational funding
that had already been frozen for more than 20 years," Dr. Jacobs said.
Dr. Prieditis said the OAR is also deeply concerned that the MOHLTC in
their haste to bury their mistake will not buy current FFDM equipment
with the capability of adding breast tomosynthesis, a current feature
that has proven to detect up to 30% more cancers when used to screen
women for breast cancer.
"The highest standard of patient care remains our priority, and Ontario
women must have access to the best mammography technology available"
Dr. Priedits said.
Dr. Prieditis also criticised the plan for falling short in addressing
the crisis by excluding 40 or more hospitals and publicly funded
radiology clinics from the equipment purchase because they use analogue
equipment rather than CR mammography, a direct impact of the chronic
underfunding of Ontario's diagnostic imaging infrastructure.
Dr. Jacobs added that the underfunding issue is of immediate concern to
the facilities that will be eligible to receive the new FFDM equipment,
but will be unable to cover the substantially higher operating costs,
which was the reason why facilities were forced to adopt CR as a second
The OAR is further concerned that CCO bureaucrats are serving as the
Ministry's purchasing agent, using an RFP, even though they have no
experience in the selection of highly sophisticated technical equipment
used by radiologists and refuse radiologists' expert advise on the
criteria necessary to select the best equipment versus equipment
selection guided by the lowest cost.
The OAR offered to assist CCO to ensure the RFP is developed with
adequate external expert consultation to safeguard the public interest
on both a medical and fiscal level, but that offer was ignored. A
review of the proposed RFP document indicated that many benefits that
should occur as a result of this announcement will be missed, including
providing Ontario taxpayers with best value for money, and more
importantly, the best equipment to find breast cancers earlier.
Dr. Prieditis noted that the CR discovery comes at a time when the MOH
is promoting an undefined Quality Management Program for mammography,
knowing full well that they had created this crisis by failing to act
on expert advise provided by Ontario radiologists.
"The fact that the government has caused this crisis through yet another
failure to consult their radiology experts is scandalous and should
result in a thorough investigation into how major public policy
decisions are made concerning health care in this province", Dr.
For a copy of the 2010 OAR report Delivering Modern Digital Mammography in Ontario: A Plan to Modernise
Ontario's Mammography Equipment, visit the OAR website: www.oar.info
SOURCE: Ontario Association of Radiologists
For further information:
Dr. Mark Prieditis 905-337-2680 or 1-800-616-6277.