Medical record bungle may have prompted premature inductions

2 minute read

More than 1700 women have been impacted by an error in maternity admission notes within the SA’s EMR. A ‘cluster’ indeed.

An investigation has been launched into a potential “miscalculation” of estimated due dates in SA Health’s electronic medical record system that may have led to some women being induced to deliver too early.

SA Health Minister Chris Picton announced the investigation after being briefed by SA Health last week regarding the error, which occurred over the six months until 5 June across all metropolitan and regional public birthing hospitals statewide, with more than 1700 women identified as having their records impacted.

“I was very keen … to make sure we were taking every step possible to both remedy the issue, but also to identify if there have been any clinical incidents that have occurred,” Mr Picton told ABC News.

“Any time there is an issue in terms of our medical records system we always want to make sure that it is addressed as promptly as possible.”

Keith McNeil, SA’s Commissioner for Excellence and Innovation in Health, has been tasked with leading the independent investigation, expected to take around two months, with findings to be made public once the process concludes.

Internal communication within SA Health dated 12 June, seen by ABC News, indicated the department had declared a “complex cluster incident” affecting maternity admission notes within its EMR system, Sunrise.

Information in the field for estimated due date was “potentially overwritten” by the last menstrual period calculation.

The resulting error meant clinicians may have made decisions based on incorrect information, for instance, inducing labour earlier than necessary.

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The investigation comes as SA Health is halfway through its own internal review into the error, with CEO Dr Robyn Lawrence confirming that of the roughly 850 records so far reviewed, none had indicated any detrimental impact on affected mothers or babies as a result of the error, although the department has not yet reached out to any patients whose records were affected.

“Of those women who were identified as having their records impacted … we’ve identified no subsequent adverse outcomes in them or their babies,” Dr Lawrence told ABC News.

“Of those women who remain pregnant, we’ve covered all of those women, and they will all be having their records rectified.”

SA Health is expected to conclude its review in the next couple of weeks.

Health Services Daily contacted SA Health for comment on the story but did not receive a response before deadline.

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