Files mishandled at BC Cancer Agency

Genetic screeners contacting nearly 200 patients assessed in Surrey, Abbotsford and Vancouver

The BC Cancer Agency has fired a staff member it says mishandled nearly 200 files and potentially delayed screening of people identified as genetically predisposed to cancer.

The compromised cases involve 192 patients who used the Hereditary Cancer Program at the BC Cancer Agency sites in Surrey, Abbotsford and Vancouver between August and December of 2010.

The program provides counseling and referrals for genetic testing for patients whose family histories suggest they may be predisposed to develop cancer.

Because of incomplete documentation of the affected files, referring physicians may not have been properly notified of any findings.

Dr. Barb McGillivray, the program’s medical director, said patients were all  properly evaluated and advised of findings by counsellors at the time they were assessed.

“In some cases, the next step – sending a letter back to the referring physician and outlining our recommendation – that did not occur,” she said.

As a result, the agency is following up to make sure the patients and their relatives are informed.

The program has already reached 188 affected patients and it’s searching for the remaining four. All of their physicians have been contacted.

Anyone who was assessed by the program at the three sites in the second half of 2010 and have not yet been contacted is asked to call 604-877-6000 local 2198.

“The agency and the program are very concerned that this happened,” McGillivray said.

But she stressed the risk of harm to the patients is “minimal” because the Hereditary Cancer Program does not directly diagnose and treat patients.

The service typically involves determining timelines for future screening or tests, if warranted, and potential preventative measures.

Genetic testing does not diagnose cancer but may indicated the presence of a mutation that is known to increase the patient’s likelihood of developing cancer.

A spokesperson for the Provincial Health Services Authority said the matter is being taken “very seriously” and an investigation is underway.

“BC Cancer Agency and PHSA apologize and sincerely regret any stress or anxiety this situation may have caused the clients and physicians involved,” the authority said in a statement.

The patients involved could have come from all over B.C., except for Vancouver Island.

Just Posted

Trial dates set for three men accused of 2017 killing near Hope

Lawyers for the accused appeared in Kelowna at B.C. Supreme Court on Monday

Wildfire threatens weekend campers at Chehalis Lake

The fire started on the north side of Chehalis Lake Saturday

Abbotsford council OKs bus-to-SkyTrain plan

Fraser Valley Express would begin running to Lougheed Station by start of 2021

Chilliwack community group gathering to benefit youth health centre

Chilliwack Citizens for Change planning tailgate party for CHYC

PET CARE: Canada Day tips for our pet’s anxiety

Columnist Nicolette Joosting examines different ways to help your pets relax through the celebration

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Grey-haired bank robber hit with dye pack in Langley heist

Police are looking for an older man who may be stained with dye

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

New Lower Mainland bistro caters to board game fans and families

Local food and games at every table is the formula for the new business

Most Read