Ministry of HealthThursday 06 September 2012, 4:00PM
Media release from the Ministry of Health
A report released today by the Ministry of Health on its
investigation into recent laboratory biopsy errors has highlighted
the issues of staff and workload pressures in NZ medical
laboratories and their potential effects on quality.
The Ministry convened an expert panel in June to investigate five
incidents of patients undergoing unnecessary surgery as a result of
errors in the processing or reporting of biopsy specimens occurring
over a 2 year period.
The Panel's report cites tight reporting timeframes, workforce
pressures in the face of increasing demand and a culture that does
not support collaboration between laboratories, including
contractual and funding barriers, as factors contributing to
increased likelihood of laboratory error.
NZ Medical Laboratory Workers Union president, Stewart Smith, says
that the panel's findings reinforce the message that quality in
laboratory services must not take a back seat to cost.
"Medical laboratory work has been treated as a commodity by DHB
funders of both the hospital and community services. It's an area
of healthcare that only draws attention when something goes wrong
and these tragic consequences for patients result."
"The panel's findings relate to all areas of medical laboratory
work and workforce, not only anatomical pathology departments. We
support the report's recommendation that quality initiatives need
to take precedence. Regardless of where a specimen is processed it
should receive the same high standard of testing, and the funding
framework for pathology services needs review."