Quality healthcare is dead. And it was murdered by penny-pinching administrators.
An ultrasound report came across my desk the other day that made me scratch my head. On the first page, the fetus was listed as head down and on the second page it was listed as breech (feet first). Well, what was it? The patient was almost ready to have her baby and I needed accurate information in order to make a clinical decision. It wasn’t the first time I had received a conflicting report of that nature and I was becoming highly annoyed.
A few days later I received two PAP reports printed in large font that included an apology for the “discrepancy” of the original reports. A technician had originally read them as “normal”, but after they were re-read by a physician, they were in fact, abnormal. I had the unpleasant duty of reporting to my patients that they were now at risk for developing cancer.
In an effort to “cut costs”, professional standards are cast to the wind. The radiology department in question reverted to a voice-recognition system, eliminating transcriptionist jobs. Because the computer can’t recognize certain words the ultrasound reports are often riddled with mistakes. The problem is further compounded by a revolving door of radiologists who are hired as temps and read the reports remotely (outside of the hospital). As a result of an absence of physician leadership, the radiology technicians have inadvertently “taken over.”
Yes, you can nickel-and-dime health care services, but you will also get what you pay for. Voice-recognition software can never replace qualified human beings and neither can improperly trained technicians replace pathologists. Physicians love to scream about tort reform, however how about putting some of these hospitals in check? I wish my colleagues would get their complacent heads out of the sand and DO SOMETHING to promote patient safety.
I’m tired of fighting this battle alone.