List of MRI queue-jumpers leaked in Manitoba
May 3, 2017
WINNIPEG – A confidential report was leaked to CBC News and other media outlets in April which flagged 59 professional athletes, six politicians, eight radiologists, and senior WRHA staff as receiving “potential preferential treatment” when it came to the quick manner in which they were able to receive MRI scans.
The document was created as part of Auditor General Norm Ricard’s research for an audit into MRI management in the province, but Ricard said it wasn’t his office that leaked the information.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has launched an internal investigation into how the information was leaked to the media. The Manitoba Ombudsman has also initiated an investigation into the leak under the Personal Health Information Act.
The audit found the average wait time for an MRI scan in the province was 23 weeks, while 45 percent of a compiled list of people deemed influential were scanned within a day or two weeks. One-third of those on the list received a scan within a day.
However, the high number of influential people receiving quick MRIs also highlighted a flaw with the cancellation lists, explained Ricard. A number of influential people studied were able to move from a “to be scheduled” list to getting a scan, without ever receiving a standard priority code, he found.
“Somehow the clerk gave them priority,” he said. “There is something going on with the way the cancellation system is being managed.”
The WRHA says it is working to make a host of changes to improve the system, including advertising the wait list to all patients. “It will be changed,” assured Raylene McGhee, the regional program director of diagnostic imaging for the WRHA.
Ricard also highlighted the issue of duplicated MRI requests, which account for almost 20 per cent of the WRHA’s no-shows. Under the current system, a doctor can order a scan at multiple facilities in hopes of getting a quicker scan and the WRHA has no way of tracking a duplication.
McGhee says centralizing the system so all requests must go through a central intake system was on their to-do list long before the audit was released.
Meanwhile, an information technology upgrade due in the summer will likely allow the authority to track wait times for scans based on priority, another recommendation by Ricard. The system could also allow the WRHA to track how long it takes for a patient on the cancellation list to get a scan, McGhee said.
This will allow Manitobans to know how long it takes to get a scan when they are prioritized as emergent, urgent, semi-urgent and routine, rather than a global figure.
Ricard reviewed 285 outpatient files and found the province was only meeting its regional targets 12 percent of the time in routine cases. The target was 60 days to eight weeks.
Targets were met 24 percent of the time in semi-urgent cases (target 14 to 16 days), 42 percent of the time for urgent cases (target one week), and 92 percent of the time for emergent cases (target 24 hours to three days).
“It’ll definitely be an improvement overall. We want to know if we meet those targets, not just from a non-statistical audit for an auditor general, but from actually statistical information,” McGhee said. “This has been a priority long before this audit. We want to make sure there are no gaps.”