According to Hospital Employee’s Union (HEU) website “a plan by Lower Mainland health authorities to contract out all medical transcription services threatens to put the confidentiality and accuracy of patient records at risk. On Thursday, health authorities issued a request for proposals to contract out the work of more than 130 medical transcriptionists who work out of three hubs located in Vancouver, New Westminster and Abbotsford. HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson says the move will transfer control over the accuracy and confidentiality of sensitive patient records to a private contractor. “Health authorities have a responsibility to both patients and physicians to maintain close control over highly sensitive patient records,” says Pearson. “This ill-thought out move by health employers comes with an unacceptably high degree of risk.” Medical transcriptionists are responsible for transcribing physicians’ voice-recorded dictation of surgical procedures, consultations, patient histories, laboratory and diagnostic test results, and various reports.”
I have never had any indication that HEU gives a damn about patient privacy (this is a generalized statement about the organization as I believe there are some individuals who do care). HEU is the organization that made sure their employee’s privacy was protected but not the patients. I also don’t recall them starting a “campaign” when the politicians and their friends took away patient rights to their own medical information. Nor do I recall hearing a peep out of them while, for over 10 years, the DNA of babies was being stored by a private contractor and shared without parent knowledge or consent; in fact, some of these HEU members would have been among the people who conveniently all decided that “the parents wouldn’t be interested”in knowing what was happening to their baby’s blood.etc. I only hear about their “concern” for patients when HEU jobs/working conditions are involved.
And to suggest that patient records are confidential, when so much evidence indicates otherwise, is just incredible hypocrisy. But, like the politicians and corporations that run the hospitals, they figure that if they say it often enough people will believe it or, at least, they won’t have to explain why it isn’t confidential (I would like to see their evidence that patient records are protected, not just hear the spin). I believe HEU really only cares about the jobs/working conditions of its members and the privacy angle is simply a means to that end.
Having said that, if what they say is true in terms of contracting out medical transciption it probably will worsen an already bad situation. I was told that the contract will go to Accenture (I don’t know if this is true), a US corporation which means it is subject to the US Patriot Act. This would be the Accenture that, I understand, did not have its contract renewed with BC Hydro.
I heard there will be a documentary on CTV on Sunday night. It will be interesting to see how much of it is about the patients and their loss of rights and privacy vs HEU and their self-interest.

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