A national project in that would standardize medical tests among hospitals and health clinics in Vietnam will be launched this year, the Ministry of Health has said.
Uniform standards will set out certain norms that would ensure the quality of sub-clinical medical tests, such as sample-taking and test results. Under the two-stage project, laboratories in healthcare facilities will be required to meet certain standards for internal and external tests, staff qualifications and equipment maintenance. Health workers would be able to conduct medical tests only if the equipment meets technical standards for such tests. In the project’s first phase, the ministry will focus on building standard labs for major healthcare centres nationwide, including the Ha Noi-based Bach Mai Hospital, HCM City-based Cho Ray Hospital and Hue Central General Hospital. Total investment for the three hospitals amounts to VND20 billion (US$ 1.25 million), which will be spent on human resource training and equipment purchases in the first-phase period. Three standard analysis centres, to be built in Ha Noi, Hue and HCM City during the project’s second phase, will monitor test results at grassroots clinic and train hospital staff in examination techniques. The centres would not be allowed to administer medical tests, but would instead act only as an arbitrator of test results from healthcare facilities and later report to the ministry. The centres will also make unscheduled inspections of healthcare facilities to minimise medical errors. A survey of 94 hospitals nationwide by Viet Nam Biochemical and Medical Association shows a strong increase in the number of examination clinics in recent years, with a total of 380 set up at the provincial level and up. The number of exam sessions has also risen, with 146 million medical tests made last year, statistics show. “But test quality remains a matter of big concern,” said Ly Ngoc Kinh, director of the Health Ministry’s Treatment Department. Errors were rampant, including mistaking the patient’s name as well as other blunders, because of the existing substandard procedures used in taking test samples as well as the outdated equipment and unqualified technicians. “Few students are deciding to major to be medical exam technicians, but are choosing the field of X-rays, ultrasound, odonto-stomatology and maxillo-facial, or ear-nose-throat because they have better incomes.” Hospitals, even larger ones with state-of-the-art equipment, refuse to accept each other’ s test results, leading to a waste of time and money for patients who want to transfer from one hospital to another, according to the director.