The Interior Health Authority is investigating nearly 1,000 sleep studies conducted at Kelowna General Hospital over the last four year after concerns were raised about interpretation of the findings.
Interior Heath has contacted 13 patients who underwent polysomnography testing at the Kelowna General Hospital’s sleep lab and will be reviewing a further 980 cases given potential concern about the interpretation of the test results.
The polysomnography tests, also known as sleep studies, are used in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders and occurred between Aug. 29, 2007 and Sept. 8, 2011.
This situation was discovered during a recent quality assurance review put in place to protect patients.
A medical surveyor from the diagnostic accreditation program conducted a site visit to the KGH Sleep Lab at the end of May and identified concerns related to the quality of the readings of a small, random sampling of sleep studies conducted at the lab.
The surveyor recommended a retrospective audit by an independent, external reviewer. That review took place in late July and confirmed the surveyor’s original concerns with some studies.
“It’s important to note that the physicians doing the interpretation did have the required training or credentials required to perform this service,” said Dr. Michael Murray, IH’s senior medical director.
“We need to review our systems, ensuring we have the right checks and balances in place – including mentoring and peer review for our staff and physicians—which will enhance patient safety. That is our priority.”
The two physicians involved have voluntarily agreed to no longer interpret sleep studies. This was a service they provided in addition to their regular specialty.
Interior Health has not had concerns with their practice in those other areas.
Interior Health is in the process of reviewing which patients may require further follow-up.
The review may result in some patients requiring a change in their care plans and follow-up with their referring physician. For others, there may be no change at all.
This follow-up process includes an expert review of 980 studies that have been interpreted at the sleep lab since Aug. 29, 2007 to determine what follow-up is required, if any.
All patients will be notified of this review by Interior Health in the interest of full disclosure and transparency.
“We believe that patients would want to have this information even if the expert reviewer determines there is little or no risk involved. Additionally, we have an ethical responsibility to inform them,” said Dr. Murray.
Interior Health operates two sleep labs, one at KGH and one at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and patients are referred by their physicians from throughout the health region.
There are no issues associated with the lab at RIH, which just recently received full accreditation by the provincial Diagnostic Accreditation Program.
Interior Health says it recognizes some patients may have questions and has established a phone line to provide information. IH staff will answer calls Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and monitoring voice mail messages after hours. The toll-free number is 1-877-442-2001.