SA Health has employed 30 extra staff and launched a taskforce to investigate blood tests being delayed and even lost because of a new computer system.
- SA Health blood test results are being delayed or lost
- New computer system blamed
- 30 extra staff employed to fix backlog
The department’s deputy chief executive, Don Frater, said as the Enterprise Pathology Laboratory Information System had been implemented across the health network, it had become apparent it was now taking longer for staff to enter data, causing delays when it came to test results.
It is the latest in a series of issues for SA Health, including the poor rollout of the slow and clunky EPAS electronic patient record system, substandard food at the new $2.3 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital and ramping plaguing emergency departments.
“There have been a couple of issues where tests have been delayed longer than a day so we want to find out exactly what the implications were of that,” Mr Frater said.
“We have raised with all of our clinicians exactly how to ensure that urgent tests are processed quickly.”
The $37 million system was rolled out across government health services last year.
There have also been reports of test results being lost.
Mr Frater said in urgent situations, test results must be returned within an hour.
“It may be bad in the situation whereby you need the test results to determine what the next steps and what the next set of treatment is,” he said.
“It could result in patient harm. We need to make sure that we get to the turnaround times that we’ve had in the past.”
Staff employed to fix backlog
The department has employed 30 extra staff for the next few months to work through the backlog and a taskforce has been set up to investigate whether any patients have been adversely affected.
“They’ll do a backward look and find out if there were any patient delays, and ensure that if there were problems that we have done public disclosure and give us an understanding of what steps we need to take to ensure that doesn’t occur in the future,” Mr Frater said.
Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said Health Minister Stephen Wade should tell Parliament “how this has been allowed to fester without him publicly revealing it earlier”.
“Mr Wade, the new health minister, set a very high watermark around transparency and it appears as though he’s been sitting on this information for some days,” Mr Malinauskas, the health minister at the time of the March election, said.
A controversial reorganisation of SA Pathology services, which had cast doubt over 196 current jobs, was suspended by the former Labor government last August after concerns from Professionals Australia, which represents staff.
SA director Sarah Andrews said the new IT system was not fit for purpose and she had been raising concerns for months.
“What we hear from members is that EPLIS is not for purpose, and in response members report significant increases to turnaround times, there are lost specimens in the system, and there’s a lack of specimen tracking and problems with interfacing with the existing and the new equipment,” Ms Andrews said.
Soon after being elected, the new Liberal Government halted the rollout of the EPAS patient record system, which will cost taxpayers $471 million over the 10 years until 2021.