Friday, August 07, 2015
Wide Support For The Clinical Community To Abandon Snail Mail. Not Before Time!
This appeared last week:
28th Jul 2015
RACGP president Dr Frank Jones has endorsed calls for an update of medical communications after a missing hospital letter was blamed for contributing to the warfarin-related death of an elderly Adelaide woman.
SA deputy coroner Anthony Schapel found a specialist’s “archaic” practice of sending a letter by ordinary post contributed to the death of Marjorie Irene Aston, 86.
Among his recommendations, handed down on 17 July, he said prescribing specialists should adopt the “most efficient means possible” of notifying a patient’s GP if they did not intend managing warfarin therapy themselves.
He spelt out the need to stop relying on the postal service and shift to email and facsimile transmissions.
The RACP says it is reviewing the recommendations for a more modern approach and will advise physician members, but there’s no doubt general practice is keen for change.
“Surely to goodness, in the 21st century, we have to have a better communications system in place,” Dr Jones told Medical Observer.
“There’s no question we could improve our communications between private specialists, hospitals and general practice; it’s so doable.
“I think sometimes the legalities, the privacy and the IT issues get in the way of what we are trying to achieve, which is better patient outcomes.”
Dr Jones said he did not wish to address Mrs Aston’s case specifically, but he had no doubt more reliable communications among clinicians were not only possible but necessary.
He added that while 95% of general practices are computerised, hospitals and specialists have lagged behind.
Associate Professor Andrew MacIsaac, president of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand, likened Mrs Aston’s death to a plane crash “caused by a whole series of events that you would not expect to occur under ordinary circumstances”.
“This is a tragic case, and it highlights the issues and dangers of starting people on warfarin,” he said.
“I suppose this emphasises the importance of getting it right and having a robust system, and that each doctor who initiates warfarin needs to have a system to ensure that it is well managed.”
He agreed doctors should consider communications factors in their decisions, but security and privacy concerns had limited moves to more efficient electronic modes.
Don’t you love the privacy apologists who are just too lazy to move into the 21st Century. There should be a 2-3 year phase out of paper and then all communications, both ways between specialists, hospitals and GPs should be electronic.
It is not all that hard after all!
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Friday, August 07, 2015