A hidden camera investigation by Radio-Canada has revealed lax security at the hematology and biochemistry lab of the Hull Hospital, despite a 2017 warning from Quebec's professional order of medical technologists calling for the institution to restrict access.
Quebec's health ministry said the security situation for the lab "does not appear to meet standards."
At 7 a.m. on March 8, a Radio-Canada reporter entered the Gatineau, Que., hospital with a hidden camera and was able to easily go inside the hematology and biochemistry lab. The reporter moved around without any employee in the lab confronting him. Medical samples were within reach, but the reporter did not touch them.
After being told about the situation by Radio-Canada, the Outaouais regional health authority (le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais, or CISSSO) said the lab was not monitored or locked between 6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. CISSSO said the lab is not locked during its office hours and the receptionist is responsible for monitoring access during the workday, starting at 8 a.m.
Medical labs must always be absolutely secured, according to Doris Levasseur Bourbeau, president of l'Ordre professionnel des technologistes médicaux du Québec (OPTMQ) or, in English, the Professional Order of Medical Technologists of Quebec. "Access to the lab must be exclusively limited to authorized personnel," Bourbeau said in French.
Visitors passing through the lab could distract employees, increasing the risk for error, she said. "People in the lab are working with samples that are very precious, very important," she said. "We're talking about blood samples, cerebrospinal fluid, where you cannot have people disturbed by comings and goings."
Levasseur Bourbeau said the Hull Hospital needs to control access to samples to avoid cross-contamination and the potential of exposure to infection.
The Sackville Memorial Hospital (SMH) Foundation has launched its Accuracy is the Best Result Good Chemistry Campaign 2018, with an ambitious $100,000 fundraising goal. Strong community support is needed once again to ensure laboratory professionals have the best technology to provide the most accurate results for patients.
This year, the Foundation will purchase a sophisticated chemistry analyzer for the lab at the SMH. This technology will provide quick and accurate results, allowing physicians to make the correct diagnosis and administer prompt treatment to patients. The new unit will replace an aging unit that is reaching the end of its lifespan.
The lab touches virtually every aspect of patient care. The lab, which performs over 61,000 tests per year, is arguably the hospital’s most vital service. Diagnostic tests are often the least expensive component of the health care pathway, yet they influence more than 70 per cent of all health care decisions. The dedicated team of medical laboratory professionals at SMH process over 250 specimens per day from admitted patients, the emergency department, Extra Mural Program, long-term care facilities and various clinics throughout the Tantramar area.