Suite 138, 8627 91 St Edmonton, Alberta T6C 3N1

THE FAX MACHINE

Here is our short but compelling list of why the fax machine should stay in use in the medical industry forever.
  • No passwords to remember. Just put the referral in the machine, dial the receiving clinics number and forget about it. Any one can use it. No training required.
  • Reliability. How do you know that the fax was received by the specialist? A unique feature to the fax machine is that old “connecting and sending buzz.” It’s the end of the day, one more referral to send. Dial the number (make sure you dial carefully) and wait for that old familiar shriek. You’re connected. Great, go home, walk the dog and forget about it.
  • Built in memory. Yes, that’s right. A lot of people forget about this, but every fax machine has built in memory. So, if you need to reprint or resend a referral, simply go into the memory (no password required) and follow the instructions. Super easy. Oh, if you are upgrading your fax machine don’t forget to clear the memory before you send it to the recycling company.
  • Managing received referrals. Again, no training required. Simply grab the faxes off the machine, go through the paper, sort accordingly and distribute by hand. What could be easier? Get them off your plate and onto someone else’s. Need to share, simply reprint from the memory in the fax machine or throw them onto the photo copier. Yes, paper costs can add up, but it’s nice having something tangible to look at. Toner costs have risen for sure but in the grand scheme of things what’s a few hundred bucks a year? A note on sharing, you can fax between offices and clinics easily.
  • Dedicated Fax line. No need to worry about the wi-fi connection. You can always send or receive a fax on your dedicated line. It’s not that expensive and super reliable. Right?
  • Privacy. Okay, this one is a bit of a challenge. There’s the fax machine sitting on the counter or receptionist desk. How do you make sure that only the right people see the referrals? Well, that’s up to you. Make sure your staff know how important and sensitive this information is. Especially that temp receptionist. Put in place policies and procedures that everyone understands and follows. Make sure Monday morning that stack of referrals that came in over the weekend is dealt with immediately. You should also instruct your cleaning company that if there are any papers on the floor or in the garbage that they are for qualified staff only. Oh, maybe you want to think about hiring a shredding company? They aren’t that expensive. Privacy is your responsibility, so make the effort.

So, here’s the last point and perhaps the most important. What if the wrong number is dialed? That’s easy. Set up a protocol whereby someone in your office is charged with confirming receipt of all referrals. If the fax has been sent to roofing contractor just activate your privacy breach protocol and report the incident to the privacy commisioner. It’s just a matter of process. Remember you are dealing with very sensitive information and you have responsibilities to your patients under the privacy act. You need to make sure that their referral has been received and dealt with. It’s really about peace of mind.

Old steam train

Victorian man dies alone after test results faxed to wrong number – coroner slams use of “antiquated” tech

The Victorian coroner has criticized the medical profession’s reliance on “antiquated and unreliable” faxes and called for national communication standards after a cancer patient’s test results were sent to the wrong number and he died alone in a hotel room.

The 58-year-old Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient, Mettaloka Halwala, was found in his bed and fully clothed by hotel staff when they opened the door of his room on the morning of November 17, 2015. The father of two had died from chemotherapy complications.

Four days earlier a PET scan at Melbourne’s Austin Hospital had showed signs of potentially fatal lung toxicity linked to Halwala’s treatment but the results were faxed to the wrong number.

“It is difficult to understand why such an antiquated and unreliable means of communication persists at all in the medical profession,” Coroner Rosemary Carlin said in her inquest findings.

Neither Halwala nor his haematologist, Dr Robin Filshie, who had ordered the scan, were made aware of the results. This, combined with other “shortfalls in his medical management”, meant a further fatal dose of the same drug was administered at Goulburn Valley Hospital.

The day before he was found dead, Halwala had told Dr Filshie he felt unwell. He was advised to go to hospital but didn’t make it there.

The coroner said Halwala had been “let down by the medical profession”.

“Healthcare IT News/ May 11 2018”