If South Australia’s electronic hospital records system were a car it would be recalled, according to the state’s AMA, after a survey of medical staff suggested the system was “not fit for purpose”.

Pathology mix-ups, prescribing mishaps and trouble finding records when they are urgently needed were some of the problems identified by users of SA Health’s electronic patient records system in a questionnaire.

The survey results raise doubts about whether the Enterprise Patient Administration System should be used at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, the AMA(SA) President, Associate Professor William Tam, said.

“With a new hospital and a system already over-burdened, these issues place enormous stress on doctors and other health professionals using the system,” he said.

Despite assurances from SA Health that the system is improving patient care, over 30 per cent of survey respondents say patients are not clinically safer with EPAS.

“When people who have been using the system for more than two years tell you it is dangerous and unfit for purpose you need to take notice,” Tam said.

A third of survey respondents reported that EPAS was directly responsible for “near misses” while nearly 20 per cent said the system caused adverse patient outcomes. Serious errors included charting medications for the wrong patient, critical delays in obtaining records on surgical patients and pathology errors such as mixing patients and specimens. Respondents also found the system slow and difficult to use.

“You might expect some teething problems but, quite honestly, after four years we would expect most problems to be fixed.”

South Australia’s Health Minister Jack Snelling responded to the claims in state parliament yesterday, referring to the AMA as a "serial whinger". He said the respondents to the AMA questionnaire were not representative of the wider medical workforce.

 

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