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

Just Posted

World Class Hiking Trail For The North Island?

The idea is getting some serious attention.

Provincial grants help communities map, meet housing needs

The next intake for funding is open until Nov. 29, 2019.

North Island Rising: Can the future of the North Island be managed?

Can growth be managed and if so, is now the time to start figuring things out?

Less than a month to go until the Mount Waddington Fall Fair!

The committee is hoping for a record number of exhibits this year

Port McNeill CCCU presents cheque to Port McNeill Hospital Society executive

The cheque was from the June 21 fundraiser BBQ that Ward and her Grandmother Lou organized together

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

‘It’s just the freedom:’ Paralyzed Broncos player pursuing life on the water

The former Humboldt Broncos goaltender, who started in the net when he was nine, was paralyzed last year

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Most Read