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Physician IT

BC doctors to vote on province-wide EMRs

VICTORIA – The British Columbia Medical Association is asking the province’s 4,000 doctors to ratify a general compensation agreement with the province that includes $110 million in funding for a province-wide electronic record system.

According to the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper, BC Medical Association president Dr. Michael Golbey (pictured) said that within months of the May 4 ratification deadline, hundreds of doctors could be connected to the new network.

If a secure and fully integrated system is implemented, physicians throughout the province should be able to record and share patient information by computer, while some patients will be able to access their comprehensive records online.

Test results can now be acquired from any Vancouver Island Health Authority facility or doctor’s office via a written request. Most private laboratories will comply with a patient’s oral request.

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals received a combined 2,609 requests for medical test results in 2005, compared with 1,392 in 2001. Nanaimo Regional General Hospital had 3,473 requests in 2005. West Coast General received 949 requests and Campbell River and District Hospital had 684.

Patients own their medical records and doctors are mere custodians, the B.C. Medical Association says.

While saying it’s “really good for people to have access to their own records,” Dr. Golbey cautioned that unless a patient can interpret the documents, the information can be irrelevant or confusing.

Doctors in B.C. are required to keep patients’ medical records for at least seven years following their last visits.