A major London trust has been forced to cross-check two million patient records following concerns over the inadvertent termination of care pathways.
An investigation is underway at St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust in south west London following what has been reported as a widespread data entry failure on the electrical medical record system at the trust.
Following the widespread review, the trust has identified nearly 130,000 high risk patients who are currently being prioritised for validation.
However, further effort is required, as it is expected that the investigation will uncover more high-risk cases as it proceeds.
Having reviewed the two million records, the trust has identified 129,000 “high risk” patients who are being prioritised for validation.
The validation process is not expected to be completed until the summer of 2018.
It is believed that the two million patient records being checked may have been recorded incorrectly on the patient administration system.
This effectively means that pathways may not have been recorded in the electronic patient record.
Problems arose after a new patient administration system was introduced in 2014, with the staff having been provided with inadequate training at this time.
In order to address the situation, a workaround involving the non-standard entry of data was instigated, but this has apparently caused technical difficulties.
“It was a well intentioned workaround [short-cut] with unintended consequences” a spokesman commented.
Despite the scale of the investigation into the matter, the spokesman also noted that there is no evidence of any patient coming to serious harm as a result of the loss of records.
But it is conceded that long waiting times may have resulted from the issue.
In order to attempt to rectify the situation, an external company comprising around 50 employees has been appointed in order to help validate and correct patient records.
All high risk patients are expected to have had their records cross-checked by August, although the level of patient records required to be validated means that this date may slip back further still.
The overall cost of the process is also expected to run into the millions.
Commenting on the issue, a spokesman for the trust indicated that the organisation has been as transparent as possible while this unenviable process has been conducted.
“We have been clear from the outset that our data problems are systemic, and that there will be no quick fix. The approximate figure of two million refers to the number of patient records which are incomplete or haven’t been ‘closed’ on our administrative systems. We expect that the majority of these patients will have been seen and treated.”
The spokesman also outlined the determination of the trust to get to the bottom of this issue, and resolve any problems satisfactorily.
“The elective care (data quality) recovery programme is a key priority for St George’s, and we are determined to ensure that the excellent clinical care we provide is underpinned by sound operational processes.”