IT debacle threatens patient safety at New RAH

The State Liberals are demanding that Health Minister Jack Snelling halt the roll-out of trouble plagued EPAS until serious flaws identified by current users have been fixed.

The Opposition has released a letter from SASMOA highlighting concerns of doctors at the Repat and Noarlunga Hospitals of ‘extreme clinical risk’ and the potential for ‘a major adverse event for patients’ resulting from EPAS.

“This is an ominous warning to the Weatherill Government that its botched electronic patient record system will pose a serious risk to patient safety at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,” said Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade.

“The doctors say that they are ‘extremely alarmed’ that the rollout of EPAS is planned to continue at the new RAH, given that the ‘risks will be compounded at larger hospital sites’.

“Now is the time that the Minister must act. He can’t say he hasn’t been told; he won’t be able to get ‘very angry’ next year if he fails to act now.

“The SASMOA letter follows a similar letter from health professionals using EPAS in the Port Augusta Hospital which became public last month.

“This latest letter puts the Minister on notice that doctors at all three hospitals currently using the EPAS have serious concerns about patient safety.

“Patients at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital will be particularly vulnerable to flaws in EPAS.

“The nRAH was designed to be paperless and the Weatherill Government is planning to shuttle paper records from off-site storage.

“At the hospitals where EPAS is currently used paper patient records continue to be a fall-back.”

The Weatherill Government currently plans to introduce a cut-down version of EPAS from day 1 at the nRAH before moving to the full version a few months later.

Issues raised by the current users include:

Medical officer productivity reduced by up to 30%;

  • Data errors and the absence of brand names means that the drug prescribed is not necessarily what is dispensed;
  • Patient waiting times are extreme, causing bed blocks;
  • Patient history review is difficult; and,
  • Logging on and most tasks take a lot longer – “EPAS is functionally hopeless and significantly time consuming”.

One medical officer states that “this system has clearly not been designed for improved patient care. … It seems likely it has been designed for increasing revenue by tracking referrals, procedures performed etc.”.