Suspended Canadian radiologist: 'This is a modern-day lynching'

By Kate Madden Yee, AuntMinnie.com staff writer

July 30, 2009 -- For Dr. Darius Tsatsi, a South Africa-educated radiologist, landing a job at Sunrise Health Region in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 2004 was a dream come true. Five years later, that dream has turned into a nightmare.

Tsatsi has been forced to defend himself and his competency as a radiologist as Saskatchewan health authorities perform a review of 70,000 imaging exams he has interpreted over the past five years. Tsatsi maintains that he has already demonstrated his competence and the province's investigation of him is biased and unfair. He told his story to AuntMinnie.com.

A new adventure

Tsatsi held a number of prominent diagnostic radiology positions in his native South Africa, serving as head of radiology at Dr. George Mukhari Hospital near Pretoria, as well as a professor of radiology at the University of Limpopo. He also contributed to the editorial committee of the South African Journal of Radiology.

The Sunrise position at Yorkton Regional Health Centre seemed a fitting new adventure for the 52-year-old radiologist, offering him a chance to bring his family west and practice in a new setting. But Tsatsi is now embroiled in a conflict with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS), fighting allegations that his work is subpar.

"This whole experience has been very depressing for me and my family, as well as the people I work with," Tsatsi said. "One thing has been achieved: to embarrass me, almost internationally. But I don't think you can hide the truth. It always comes out."

The CPSS discovered what it called "interpretation irregularities" in May during a routine review of Tsatsi's work. It found enough difference of opinion regarding Tsatsi's interpretation of 103 diagnostic cases that it expressed its concerns to the Sunrise Health Region, which oversees Yorkton, according to college officials. On May 14, Tsatsi's medical privileges were suspended pending results of an investigation.

"Like all physicians, I welcome any investigation that has patient safety as its priority," Tsatsi said. "The public has the right to safe, effective, quality care, and Saskatchewan Health and the health region bear the responsibility for providing this.... [But] the investigation by the college against me since 2005 has failed to provide the above without causing unlimited damage to myself, my family, and my community."

CPSS assessed Tsatsi's competence in 2005, just after he had begun at Yorkton, Tsatsi said. His work was found to be lacking, and in 2008, Tsatsi underwent three months of remedial education at McMaster Medical Centre in Ontario.

"We gave them everything there was, all the documents that supported what I was saying [about my work]," Tsatsi said. "They told me, 'OK, go to [Ontario] for three months, we'll pay for it, and once you've done that, it's done."

McMaster confirmed that Tsatsi was competent, he said, and these results should have been enough to settle the issue. But the CPSS decided that Tsatsi should undergo another competency assessment, according to Tsatsi.

"The reports from McMaster indicated that I have adequate skill and knowledge to practice independently as a diagnostic radiologist," Tsatsi said. "[I felt that undergoing] another assessment without being given a chance to give my side of the story was unfair."

The court case

This past April, Tsatsi took the college to court, but withdrew his case when a CPSS official apologized for "the way he and the college had treated me and my family and that he regretted all that had happened," Tsatsi said. But the apparent respite was brief, according to Tsatsi: On May 20, the CPSS and Sunrise announced that Tsatsi's privileges had been suspended and that his exams would be reread.

The college ordered approximately 70,000 tests to be reread, the majority of which were performed in the Sunrise Health Region. So far, only 12,000 have been sent out for analysis by radiologists in Edmonton and Regina, and of those, 2,550 have had new reports prepared. In 312 cases, the radiologists reading the images had a different interpretation of the results than Tsatsi, and in 116 cases, the difference had the potential to affect patient care, Sunrise Health Region said Monday.

At a press conference in Yorkton on July 22, Tsatsi claimed that the CPSS, the Canadian Ministry of Health, and regional authorities "have collaborated to misrepresent the facts and mislead the public about my work, the nature of their investigation against me, and my qualifications or certification."

Now he is waiting for a hearing before the CPSS Competency Hearing Committee, but he feels his chances of being treated fairly have been affected by the controversy.

"The college has prejudiced and spoiled my chances of getting a fair hearing by discussing things that are still sub judice out in the public domain," he said. "It will be very difficult for any Competency Hearing Committee not to be biased after my name and everything else about me has been splashed in the media. This is a daylight, modern-day lynching."

The CPSS and Sunrise Health Region were unavailable for comment.

By Kate Madden Yee
AuntMinnie.com staff writer
July 30, 2009

Canadian image audit: 70,000 reasons to have a PACS, July 20, 2009

Canadian authorities review 70,000 cases after rad is suspended, June 11, 2009

Web site solicits patients for cases of radiology errors, May 27, 2008

Simple tracking program, case review scale back resident misreads, November 30, 2006

Copyright © 2009 AuntMinnie.com

 

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