MONTREAL, March 27, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - The Association des radiologistes du Québec (ARQ) has acknowledged the audit results published by the Collège des médecins du Québec, which focused on some 22,000 screening mammograms, including the 17,834 screening mammograms performed between 2008 and 2010 by a radiologist that has not practiced since October 2010, following an evaluation by the Collège des médecins. This significant rescreening process brought to light a high instance of false negatives, meaning mammogram results falsely considered to be normal, among which were found 109 cancer cases left undetected during the initial screenings, including 96 cases attributable to that same radiologist.
The Association des radiologistes du Québec, comprised of 604 medical specialists practicing radiology in Québec, condemns this poor performance: "These very poor results fail to uphold the profession's recognized standards, said Dr. Frédéric Desjardins, President of the ARQ. Women aged 50 to 69 that are registered in the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer du sein, including those who are referred by their physician to investigate an anomaly, have the right to expect the highest level of thoroughness with regard to the analysis of their mammograms."
Dr. Desjardins confirms that the second screening of the mammograms, undertaken in collaboration with several radiologists, were subject to stringent follow-ups. "In each case where discrepancies were noted during the process, the patient was monitored. Each of them has received, or currently receives, the proper follow-up and treatment for her condition."
The ARQ specifies that this isolated case reflects neither the quality of care currently given in the clinics where the new screenings are taking place, nor the performance of other radiologists using mammography to screen for breast cancer.
However, this particular case brings up two issues for the Association: the relevance of tightening quality control processes related to the mammography process, and the need to avoid professional isolation, so that all radiologists may benefit from peer review to ensure continuous improvement.
The ARQ did not wait for the results of this audit. Indeed, it is actively working with several stakeholders within the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to strengthen current quality assurance processes and implement new measures. These initiatives align with the recommendations issued by the Collège des médecins.
Progress has already been made since 2010. Every clinic offering mammography services must be granted accreditation by the Canadian Association of Radiologists under the Mammography Accreditation Program (PAM) or its equivalent. Indeed, clinic involvement in the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer du sein has increased. As such, they benefit from the program's current performance tracking measures. In fact, the amount of mammograms performed yearly as part of this program has almost doubled, jumping from 165,000 in 2000 to 315,000 in 2010.
Furthermore, a peer review process is under development to foster skill maintenance and upgrade.
Proper professional development and the upkeep of a professional network are also key in maintaining and improving overall skills among radiologists. While such responsibility is ultimately the purview of each health care professional, the ARQ actively supports its members in the pursuit of excellence within their individual practice, specifically through mammography training activities (presented in collaboration with the Société canadienne-française de radiologie (SCFR)).
The ARQ would like to remind the public that mammograms remain the best early breast cancer diagnosis tool, and that detection at this stage is proven to decrease mortality from breast cancer. Mammograms save lives! As such, it strongly encourages Québec women to take part in the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer du sein aimed at women aged 50 to 69 and undergo a mammogram every two years, and directs them to Mammo.ca for more information on mammograms.
About the Association des radiologistes du Québec
The Association des radiologistes du Québec (ARQ) is comprised of medical specialists practicing radiology in Québec. Radiology specialists perform medical diagnoses using images of the human body taken with various imaging technologies: X-rays (conventional radiology, mammography, bone densitometry, angiography and computerized axial tomography), ultrasonography and magnetic resonance. The ARQ is one of 34 associations comprising the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ).
For further information:
The Association des radiologistes du Québec
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