Newcastle Hospitals Tackle Unsent Medical Letters Due to Faulty Record System

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An oversight within a new computer system resulted in approximately 24,000 letters from senior doctors to patients and their general practitioners at Newcastle Hospitals being overlooked. This alarming issue emerged in 2018 and has increasingly drawn attention due to the magnitude of its potential implications on patient safety.

Authorities in healthcare regulation have urgently summoned assurance concerning patient safety. This has led to instructions being issued to staff to document any incidents that may have caused harm to a patient, and to rectify such instances posthaste.

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An inspection executed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) earlier this year incited hospital staff to express concerns surrounding the delayed dissemination of correspondence. A subsequent assessment unveiled a substantial amount of letters penned by high-level medical professionals that had not left the e-record accounts.

A significant percentage of these letters instruct on post-hospital discharge patient care, while others, drafted by specialist clinics, detail vital care for patients. An inside source also revealed the root of the issue—an impractical and sluggish electronic patient record system that has been an unresolved complaint for years.

The standard procedure followed before letters leave the trust involves one staff member drafting the letter, which then must be approved by a second clinician.

Congruent with a swift and immediate response, the CQC instructed the trust to provide meticulous reports and present a comprehensive plan of action against this significant issue.

In direct response to this, Martin Wilson, Newcastle Hospitals’ chief operating officer, conveyed apologies for the inconvenience caused and reassured that immediate measures would be taken.

While diligent efforts are in process to comprehend the impact and address this concern, Newcastle Hospitals is emphatic about its intent to rectify the situation. Patients whose care might have been impacted or their GP’s, will be contacted directly, displaying the seriousness of the trust towards this issue.

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