January 4, 2016 9:16 pm
Updated: January 4, 2016 9:22 pm

Alberta Health suing Ontario doctor for alleged tumour mistake

The brain-scanning MRI machine at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Keith Srakocic / The Associated Press

Alberta’s court of appeal has ruled that Alberta Health can sue a radiologist in Ontario, whose alleged misdiagnosis led to costly health care costs for a woman who moved west from Ontario.

Martina Gulevich, who launched the lawsuit alongside her husband and Alberta Health, was living in Brampton, Ontario in November 2007 when she sought medical care for headaches and vision changes.

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According to the Court of Appeal decision, Gulevich underwent a CT scan requested by her family doctor. The scan was reviewed by Toronto-area radiologist, Dr. Murray Miller, who indicated in a report that the results appeared normal.

Gulevich moved to Alberta in 2008 and, when her headaches returned, she again sought medical treatment.

An MRI and CT Scan done in July 2011 revealed a frontal lobe mass. Gulevich was diagnosed later that day with a malignant brain tumour and underwent surgery followed by intensive cancer treatment in Edmonton.

A radiologist and a radiation oncologist retained later by Gulevich and Alberta Health reviewed the 2007 CT scan.

In the ruling, the expert said that a three-centimetre abnormality on the front portion of the frontal lobe would have been, “readily identifiable because of its size.”

By the time Gulevich underwent another CT scan in 2011, the tumour had more than doubled to 6.5 centimetres. The radiation oncologist’s opinion followed that if this patient’s tumour had been diagnosed in 2007, Gulevich could have had surgery before the tumour became cancerous.

The allegations have yet to be proven in court.

Gulevich, who is still an Alberta resident, declined a request by Global News for comment on the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Alberta Health said in a statement: “As this is a matter before the courts, we can’t comment on this case or discuss any of the specific details. However, I can say that these types of cases are rare.”

According to Alberta Health, the province recovered $114 million in 2014/2015 from third party recovery funds. Most of that money was paid by insurance companies paying for third party liability, not malpractice.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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