Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yet more hospital test result worries

I wonder at what point do you stop believing the results of hospital tests? The NL Health Minister Jerome Kennedy said today that thousands of hospital tests are under review because a manufacturer has recalled a product used in tests for people who complained of chest pains when they arrived at the hospital. It means about five thousand tests have to be reviewed.

What it means is that the results of a test which might have said you are NOT having a heart attack may have been wrong. Conversely, it could have said you are having a heart attack when you’re not.

The problem is it seems that since the Cameron Inquiry we are hearing about more and more problems with regards to hospital tests in Newfoundland-Labrador. For me, the question becomes how much faith do you place in these tests? I know that at the Health Sciences Centre, there are thousands of tests given every week. And thousands of results are checked. Who gets blamed when there’s a screw up?

A case in point. About a year ago, I had a regular schedule of tests at the HSC. When the results came back, one had a note that the requested test had not been completed because the test sample had been accidentally discarded. Say again? True, in the midst of lots of attention on the quality of hospital tests, someone had discarded my sample “by mistake”. That certainly tells me someone was not focused on his/her job. I had to provide another sample and this time, the test work was done. But it speaks of an issue, despite some very expensive studies and inquiries, that still has problems.

I realize the current problem started somewhere else with the supplier of the product used in the cardio tests but it still gives me pause to wonder if the next time I get results whether I put my faith in them or hope that the doctor looks way beyond the tests.


Government Funded Blogger said...

I'm old enough to remember when GPs relied on their medical knowledge and training and commonsense when presented with patients symptoms.

These tests are one big crutch that doctors rely on and a huge drain on healthcare funding.

Wisewebwoman said...

After the Cameron Inquiry I wondered whether we were too dependent on such tests and when incorrectly administered or through faulty equipment where was the recourse?
I don't have the answers but remember with fondness many intuitive doctors I have dealt with other the years who had far more diagnostic ability than these high tech machines.
P|S I hope you got sorted.