The wait time for biopsies in Saskatchewan’s major centres is well beyond what’s considered good practice.
Judy Ferguson, the provincial auditor for Saskatchewan, released her second and final report of 2018.
One item of concern noted was the need to address the backlog in surgical biopsy analysis in laboratories in Saskatoon and Regina.
“In 2017-2018, the Saskatoon lab took 12.1 days on average to provide surgical biopsy diagnosis reports. The Regina lab took 18.7 days.”
The report states good practice is considered five days, a baseline established through examining other areas across the country. Biopsies of a higher complexity would take about six to 15 business days.
That’s something Corey Miller, Vice President of Provincial Programs for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, acknowledges will require some time.
“We have been working on process improvement initiatives since May on this specific area,” he said. “However, we still have much room for improvement and some of that is just having vacancies that we are recruiting into in pathology.
Neither of the labs also tracked the specimens throughout the analysis process. Plans are in place to introduce a IT system this month in Saskatoon, while nothing is in the works for Regina at this time.
“A formal assessment of the surgical biopsy process and IT tracking system could help the Saskatchewan Health Authority to identify factors affecting delays in patient diagnosis,” said Ferguson.
Handwashing Practices in Regina
Ferguson’s audit also examined handwashing practices at Regina hospitals.
While she determined the SHA had generally good processes in place, staff weren’t always adhering to them, particularly general cleaning and hand-hygiene practices.
“Staff aren’t doing it frequently enough,” she said. “What you’ll see in the same report is that for Sunrise, they made great strides. They actually are doing significantly better in terms of getting their staff to wash their hands more frequently.”
Dr. Jessica Minion, Medical Director of Infection Control in Regina, noted they kind of knew this.
“We keep a really close eye on our hand hygiene rates and we continue to fight this battle on a daily basis in our world.”
Ferguson also concluded in Regina hospitals was consistently lower than target of 100%. In reality, she noted it could be even lower than reported, fluctuating between 80 and 85 percent.
“For the Regina hospitals, figure out which units have a low compliance rate. Focus your efforts on those units. Make sure they have action plans and monitor them closely to make sure they’re making improvements.”
One of efforts they’ll be focusing on is making is doing more blind audits, in addition to their regular monthly non-blinded audits, though Minion notes the frequency of which has yet to be determined.