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Physicians at Canadian Hospital Petition to Suspend EHR System Roll Out Due to Patient Safety Concerns

June 9, 2016
by Heather Landi
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According to local media reports, physicians at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada have signed a petition asking the Vancouver Island Health Authority to suspend the roll out of a new electronic health record (EHR) system, citing concerns regarding patient safety.

According to an article in British Columbia newspaper Times Colonist, Island Health, a health system serving Vancouver Island in British Columbia, has a 10-year deal with EHR vendor Cerner Corp. for the new EHR system, which cost the health system $174 million. The system was launched March 19 at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital as well as a residential care center and Oceanside Health Center, according to the Times Colonist article.

The article states, “More than 100 doctors have signed a petition asking Island Health to suspend the introduction of its $174-million electronic health record system at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. The petition asks that Island Health suspend the system’s implementation until software that they say is canceling, overriding, changing or doubling up some drug orders is fixed or replaced.”

According to the article, nine weeks after the March 19 roll out, “physicians in the hospital’s intensive-care and emergency departments reverted to pen and paper orders— entered into computers by support staff—citing concern for patient safety. Doctors have said the system generates wrong drug dosages and cancels or overrides critical instructions.”

In a statement to Times Colonist, Cerner said, “We understand this can be a difficult transition for some and we’re collaborating with Island Health to optimize the physician workflow.”

Once the system is “stabilized” at the three current sites, Island Health plans to continue implementation across the system and expects to complete the roll out in the next 18 months, Antoinette O’Keeffe, health authority spokeswoman, said in the media report. “Our time line has not changed,” O’Keeffe said in the article.

According to the article, Island Health said it has found no evidence the system is changing or deleting medication orders and that resources are on site to assist intensive care unit and emergency room physicians and staff to enter medication orders into the system.

“Nonetheless, more specialists at Nanaimo General — including internists — say they plan to return to pen and paper orders this week. Medical staff warned the Health Authority Medical Advisory Committee, which provides advice to the Island Health board of directors and CEO, on May 31 of their concerns,” the Times Colonist article stated.

Last week, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake and Island Health president Brendan Carr reportedly discussed modifications made to the system based on staff and physician feedback, and the minister said he is confident patient safety is not at risk, according to the article.




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