BURNABY, BC, Feb. 13, 2013 /CNW/ - An alarming backlog in transcribing
and processing medical reports in the Lower Mainland is putting patient
care at risk, says the Hospital Employees' Union.
The union has learned that more than 16,500 patient reports were waiting
in a queue to be transcribed last week for UBC, Vancouver General and
Richmond hospitals, while others are more than two weeks behind in
This backlog is especially disturbing since some hospitals delete
patient reports that have been in the voice-dictation queue too long.
For instance, Fraser Health Authority has a policy of doing a monthly
purge of medical reports "on-hold" for more than 60 days, resulting in
patients having incomplete medical charts. Other hospitals have
unprocessed reports that remain "in limbo" for years, therefore never
making it into the patients' medical files.
HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson blames the crisis on
health authorities' mismanagement of medical transcription services and
says things will only get worse if their plan to contract out 130
in-house medical transcriptionists (MTs) proceeds later this year.
"In recent years, Lower Mainland health authorities have been shifting
more and more medical transcription services to private, for-profit
companies," says Pearson. "They've been downsizing staff, not filling
vacancies, increasing service volume, and leaving the remaining
in-house MTs working to full capacity with exhausting hours of
In fact, in-house medical transcriptionists are also assigned to spend
hours each day editing and correcting outsourced reports, taking away
valuable time from transcribing reports waiting in the backlogged
To deal with the crisis, health authorities have authorized exorbitant
amounts of overtime to HEU MTs. They've recruited temporary workers
from an agency, and continue using at least two private MT service
providers to help clear up the growing backlog.
"Patients expect that their medical records will be accurate and
processed in a timely manner," says Pearson. "They should not be in
surgery while their pre-anaesthetic consultations are sitting in a
database waiting to be transcribed. Clearly, this privatization plan is
failing B.C. patients."
SOURCE: Hospital Employees' Union
For further information:
contact Margi Blamey, communications officer, 604-785-5324.