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Sick and tired: Queensland's health bungles continue as computers give up the ghost

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A glitch has affected digital patient records at Queensland’s public hospitals for hours, forcing staff to use pen and paper.

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Up to 24 hospitals across the state are believed to have been hit by the integrated electronic medical record (ieMR) outage which started early on Wednesday.

Staff at some of the state’s biggest hospitals were unable to access digital patient records for hours after experiencing ieMR log-in issues.

The ieMR is used at some Queensland hospitals by staff to digitally document clinical care, logging real time patient information.

Affected staff reverted to using pen and paper on Wednesday.

“Users logged on prior to the issue commencing at about 8am this morning are able to continue using the ieMR system,” a Queensland Health statement said during the outage.

“Where healthcare workers cannot log in, well-practised alternative paper-based processes are in place.”

Nine hours after the glitch hit, the ieMR’s log-in function was finally restored.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation closely,” a Queensland Health statement said.

“Back-up systems operated well and we are not aware of any direct patient safety impacts as a result of the ieMR issues today.

“A post-incident review analysis to understand the cause of the issue, and steps to prevent it occurring again in the future, will take place over coming days.”

All clinical services continued to be available to the public at the affected hospitals throughout the outage, Queensland Health said.

Privacy and confidentiality procedures also remained in place, it said.

Opposition spokesperson Ros Bates said it was another “embarrassing bungle” for Health Minister Shannon Fentiman after two people died in as many days following ambulance delays.

It was revealed this week Cath Groom was found dead in her Brisbane home by family on what would have been her 52nd birthday after paramedics failed to arrive the previous evening.

It happened a day after grandfather Wayne Irving, 67, died following a three-hour wait in an ambulance outside an Ipswich hospital, west of Brisbane.

“The health minister today must explain how Queensland’s digital medical records system could experience such a catastrophic failure, putting as health workers say, patient safety at risk,” Ms Bates said.

“Hospitals across the state have spent most of today unable to access the digital patient records needed to keep them safe.

“Queenslanders deserve answers and the buck stops with Shannon Fentiman.”

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boulton said the state’s health system was feeling the strain.

“But the reality is the system is under a lot of pressure… because they are having to do more with less,” she said.

“I have been a doctor for 20 years and …health care workers haven’t worked harder as they are now to try to continue to provide care for their patients – I think the system is strained.”

 

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