Another in the "Health IT Crashed, But Patient Care Was Not Compromised" Series - NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

We must have health IT to prevent stupid doctors and nurses from making mistakes.  Without it, patients are at the mercy of dreaded Paper Records, which by definition cannot ever be used to provide quality care.

But when the IT goes down, Patient Care Has Not Been Compromised.  This line should be trademarked, as it's seen so often.  (I even have an indexing tag for it, see this query link:

Care is never, never compromised when the IT goes belly up en masse due to information technology malpractice.  Care is only compromised by paper, no matter how good the paper records and its human stewards are.

Here's the latest example that made it to the news, in Scotland:

1 October 2013
BBC News
Appointments postponed after major IT failure at NHSGGC (NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde)

Hundreds of outpatient appointments and a number of operations had to be postponed after computer systems failed at Scotland's biggest health board.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said technicians were working through the night to fix a "major IT problem" which occurred on Tuesday morning.

It affected staff access to clinical and administrative systems.

Delaying hundreds of appointments and delaying surgeries at up to 10 major hospitals seems on its face to represent "compromised care."

The health board apologised to patients and said all appointments would be rescheduled.

In total, 288 outpatient appointments, four planned inpatient procedures, 23 day surgery cases and 40 chemotherapy sessions were postponed.

There was also some delay in calls to the switchboard being answered.

The problem may have affected up to 10 major hospitals across the health board area.

One wonders how these appointments and surgeries were triaged for delay.  Clearly the downed computer was of no help.

Here's that wonderful line:

But emergency operations were not compromised - neither were community services.

So when does computer failure actually compromise patient care?  I'd like to see some hospital executive with a spine for once admit that IT malpractice does disrupt patient care, create distractions, and thus create safety risk.  Considering the domain, however, I doubt I'll ever see that.

A spokeswoman said: "Our technical staff are working flat out to resolve this.

It should never have happened in the first place.

"The problem relates to our networks and the way staff can connect to some of our clinical and administrative systems.

Well, sick patients really appreciate that explanation.

It was not clear how long the disruption would last.

NHSGGC said if it did continue, people who were scheduled for treatment would be contacted directly.

Per a computer guru from my past:  "Either you're in control of your information systems, or they're in control of you."

In this instance, the latter clearly applies.

In healthcare, having your information systems in control of you is, sooner or later, going to be deadly.

-- SS

Another in the "Health IT Crashed, But Patient Care Was Not Compromised" Series - NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde | Admin | 5