Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

The government branch in charge of cancer treatment at Abbotsford Regional Hospital has refused to release negative findings contained in a 2016 audit of the triage system for cancer patients.

While the Provincial Health Services Authority released a small list of positive findings contained in an audit requested by The News, 10 pages of “risk findings” were nearly completely redacted.

The News has requested the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) review the redactions and release the audit in full.

The document in question is a Patient Referrals and Triaging Audit completed in October of 2016.

The News had requested numerous documents after reporting on the case of Carol Young, a cancer patient who was told by a doctor that she had a month to live without treatment, but who was told she would have to wait four weeks for an appointment with an oncologist. Young received an appointment with an oncologist after The News reported on her case. She remains alive.

RELATED: Cancer patient given month to live without treatment, but must wait weeks to see doctor

RELATED: Cancer patient finally gets to see doctor in Abbotsford after media attention

In releasing the audit, the PHSA made the redactions, citing Section 13(1) of the Freedom of Information Act. That section allows, but does not require, a public body to refuse to disclose information that would reveal advice or recommendations. The exception exists to allow public servants to feel free to give full and frank advice to decision-makers, although a following subsection states that a public body can’t refuse to release of an audit under Section 13(1).

An analyst told a reporter that it was the PHSA’s “position” that it could redact portions of the audit because they would reveal advice or recommendations.

The province’s freedom of information law states that a public body must release information about the health or safety of the public, or anything else “clearly in the public interest.”

The audit contains “risk ratings” for several areas. Those ratings, however, are redacted. The audit also includes two sections titled “Positive Findings” and “Risk Findings.” A short preliminary section states: “Positive findings are areas where the processes and controls are well developed. Risk findings are areas which require further attention.”

The “Positive Findings” include four bullet points – each a sentence long and unredacted. Those findings were: “Management receives and reviews regular reports regarding new patient appointments by geographical location, tumor site, and specialty; Certain long-term HIM clerical staff members have gained significant experience in understanding cancer care terminology, which helps expedite the referral process; The BCCA website provides detailed information and guidance for referring physicians on how to refer a patient to a cancer clinic, service or program; Some BCCA centres are using electronic triage which improves the quality and accessibility of triage documentation.”

In a statement sent to The News Tuesday evening, PHSA and BC Cancer spokesperson Pamela Gole wrote:

“Internal audits provide advice and recommendations to assist the organization in prioritizing and assessing risk to improve and advance health care for our patients. This essential information relies on the openness of employees and if they were concerned about how their comments might be taken out of context or misunderstood in the public domain, that could prevent them from speaking up – and then we could miss out on important opportunities to improve care. So in order to reap the maximum benefit from internal audits, FIPPA allows for such recommendations and corresponding action plans to be withheld and acted upon internally.

“That said, we aim to resolve concerns directly with anyone who requests information. We appreciate that sometimes individuals will still have outstanding questions and in those situations, we encourage people to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.”


@ty_olsen
Do you have more information? Email: tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nine new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases since the pandemic started is now at 531 for the region

Kaslo councillor admits to ‘baiting’ member of public in email exchange

Kaslo Village Council to consider adopting code of conduct

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Cannings: MPs working from home important during Covid

“Ottawa is a hot spot for the virus at present … “

Two new COVID-19 cases reported in Interior Health

The total number of Interior Health cases since the beginning of the pandemic is now at 522

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Most Read