Patients wait months for Pap test results as labs juggle high demand, staff shortage – CBC

Pandemic backlog, long-term staff shortages both leading to lab processing delays

Nov 28, 2022

After experiencing unusual, unexplained bleeding and two rounds of abnormal Pap tests, Wendy Yen is anxiously awaiting her latest results.

But the 45-year-old Toronto resident learned it could be several months before she finds out, due to backlogs and processing delays at many Canadian laboratories.

The labs screen samples for a wide array of health conditions, including the Pap tests used to spot early warning signs of cervical cancer — a disease that can be deadly, but is often treatable and curable when it’s caught early on.

“It’s definitely nerve-racking waiting for the results,” Yen said.

Delays to get Pap test results are being felt across much of the country. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in creating a backlog of all kinds of screening tests — but multiple industry insiders told CBC News the problem is made worse by ongoing long-term staffing issues in the Canadian lab sector.

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