Less than three weeks out from opening, the $2.3 billion new Royal Adelaide Hospital is at the centre of a $185 million lawsuit in the Federal Court, with builders claiming delays with the new electronic patient records system made it “impossible” for the project to be completed on time.

The Adelaide Advertiser broke the news of the case brought by two building firms that had partnered in the construction of the new RAH — Hansen Yuncken and CPB Contractors — against South Australia’s Health Minister Jack Snelling, the state of SA and the private consortium overseeing the project.

The claim lodged two weeks ago alleges the build could not be completed by the original opening date in April last year because installation of the Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS) was delayed.

“For technical completion to have been achieved under the construction contract, the state ICT was required to have been successfully installed, tested and commissioned,” the claim says.

The builders also allege the government withheld information about the likely delays with EPAS during negotiations for additional building completion dates, which amounted to “unconscionable conduct”.

In Parliament, Snelling downplayed problems with EPAS but said paper records would also be used at the new RAH “to make the move as simple for our clinicians as is possible”.

“The safest way to achieve this was by having a limited activation of EPAS at the new RAH when we move and then to proceed to full implementation,” Snelling said.

SA Health has been rolling out EPAS across all of its public hospitals and healthcare agencies, with the first site going live in 2013. More than 2000 staff use it each day and more than 1.29 million inpatient, outpatient and emergency department visits have been registered in the system.

The new RAH hospital is set to open on 5 September.




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