Patients put at risk by software

As reported by the Sydney Morning HeraldMarch 7, 2011

THE computer system that runs emergency departments in NSW hospitals is compromising patients’ care, according to the first systematic review of the troubled project that found it was crippled by design flaws.

The FirstNet system allows treatment details and test results to be assigned inadvertently to the wrong patient, according to the review. It is based on a technical study of the software and interviews with directors of seven Sydney emergency departments.

The system is so compromised it should be scrapped, a specialist doctors’ group said yesterday.

Difficulties retrieving patient records could delay treatment, and the system – on which $115 million has been spent – automatically cancelled pathology and radiology requests if the person was transferred from the emergency department without checking whether these were still needed, according to the study by Jon Patrick, the director of the University of Sydney’s health information technology research laboratory.

Health department accused of censorship

As reported by the Sydney Morning HeraldNovember 28, 2009

THE University of Sydney removed from its website an extremely critical essay about a new multimillion-dollar emergency department IT system after pressure from the NSW Health Department. .

Doctors, nurses and administrators at four area health services heavily criticised the system – which tracks patients – as posing an ”unacceptably high risk” to patient safety because it was so slow, cumbersome and inefficient.

Some hospitals have boycotted Cerner FirstNet and reverted to paper to record clinical notes because it is too difficult and too time-consuming to retrieve critical patient information from the system, the essay said.

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”In a number of cases we know senior clinicians have shut down the use of FirstNet within a few days of it coming online,” it said.

This flies in the face of the recommendation last year from Peter Garling’s inquiry into public hospitals for full electronic medical records to improve efficiency and patient safety.

The report went on to say..

One doctor said: ”I prefer looking at a paper result than the counter-intuitive waste of my time trolling [sic] through the system.” Another said: ”Every single user *hates* it with a passion … ENTERING the data is a pure nightmare.”

Cerner FirstNet follows emergency patients and includes test results and statistics such as beds available. It is part of a massive three-year electronic records project due by June.

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