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New IT system leads to errors in half of medical notes
A NEW IT system brought in to Basildon Hospital’s pharmacy department saw nearly half of all medical notes contain errors.
The shock findings emerged from a internal investigation into medicine services ordered after the death of a 10-year-old epileptic girl in October last year who was given incorrect medicine.
The investigation found 49 per cent of the information had errors, compared to just 20 per cent under the old system.
Speaking at a hospital board meeting, Anne Marie Carrie, non-executive director, said: “I was astonished to find out there are so many errors, and to see that this has risen from 20 per cent is very worrying. We need to look at why the electronic system is letting this happen.
“For me that is definitely an area of concern.”
The new system was introduced two years ago after GPs requested to replace paper discharge letters with electronic versions.
Discharge letters are sent to patients GPs when they leave hospital to provide crucial details about diagnosis and medication.
Whilst pharmacists in the hospital refer to patients charts to dispense medicine, the mistakes could lead to incorrect medication being prescribed on return to the community.
The IT system was introduced at no additional cost to reduce delays, prevent discharge letters getting lost, make them easier to read, and reduce the risk of drugs errors.
Bosses at Basildon Hospital stress the mistakes are related to the labelling of prescriptions, and in the majority of cases do not affect the medicine itself.
Clare Panniker, chief executive of Basildon Hospital added: “I admit that 49 per cent does seem very high but we must be clear that the prescriptions are not actually going out to patients like that. These errors are being picked up at the hospital.”
An action plan has now been drawn up by the hospital to address the inaccuracies.
The action plan, which will run until next March, sets out the need for an investigation into staff levels and skills, storage of medicine and cost effectiveness.
Last year Basildon Hospital spent £14.5millon on its medicine services, but bosses hope to make cuts of £192,000.