NSW Libs to can FirstNet e-health system

The NSW Opposition has committed to canning the State Government’s FirstNet computer system in hospital emergency departments if improvements to the troubled system cannot be made.

According to shadow health minister, Jillian Skinner, the state’s Labor government was ignoring risks to patients caused by the system and as highlighted by medical specialists.

"If clinicians are saying this system is putting lives at risk, then we need to halt the roll-out and sit down with frontline health workers and find out how to make it work," Skinner said in a statement.

"The FirstNet system has been generating complaints from clinicians ever since the roll-out began, but Labor has refused to listen to frontline health workers."

Skinner said the NSW government had spent more than $100 million on the FirstNet system designed to improve patient care in emergency departments.

"A risk assessment needs to be done to determine if the system can be repaired with input from emergency specialists,” she said.

"If the system cannot deliver what is required by our hospitals then work would need to begin on looking for an alternative.”

The comments follow the release of a review by Jon Patrick, director of the University of Sydney's health information technology research laboratory into the state of Sydney emergency departments.

Following the release of the report, Sally McCarthy, president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said Professor Patrick's findings confirmed that the system, loathed by doctors and nurses, is unsuitable for its purpose.

The potential for records to be linked to the wrong patient raised a serious risk they would be given incorrect treatment, she said.

A NSW Health spokesman said in a statement the department agreed with Professor Patrick that "the ability to have two patient records open on a screen is a patient safety issue and this will be addressed through a software upgrade".

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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