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Jun 04
Region corrects computer error that delayed lab test results

Saskatoon Health Region's Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department has discovered and corrected a computer problem that resulted in delayed lab test results to physicians. 

Staff became aware of a problem in late May, where 14 codes for outpatient tests were missing from a specific format used for reporting to physician clinics. This means paper copies of these test results were not automatically sent to the doctor who ordered it although the doctor may have accessed the results electronically. 

The impact of the system error is that 1,015 test results were not delivered automatically on 620 patients whose tests were ordered by 122 physicians for 14 distinct test codes. None of the affected test results involved acute care, emergency or hospitalized patients. None of these tests concerned cancer diagnosis or treatment. The tests were for outpatients most of which were antibody tests for viruses and other markers. 

Ninety-one per cent of the affected test results are from the past two years, and a small number date back to 2007. A system review was performed back to 2003 to ensure no further tests were missed. Many of the physicians may have noticed they had not received these test results and contacted the laboratory directly to receive them. 

"I want to apologize to people who may not have received their results because of this problem," says Dr. Joseph Blondeau, joint department head, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. "We have checked to ensure these codes are now programmed into the computer and have done further checks to ensure our computer system is working properly so this doesn't happen again." 

A letter has been sent to the affected physicians along with the appropriate test results. Physicians are asked to review the results and notify Saskatoon Health Region if they were received and if there was any impact on treatment for their patient. 

Anyone who has a concern that their physician didn't receive a test result may contact Saskatoon Health Region client representatives at 306-655-0250 or 1-866-655-5066.

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