More controversy at Oslo hospitals

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Physicians at Oslo University Hospital fear for patient safety after IT project collapses, forcing doctors to follow a tedious and inefficient procedure in order to transmit patient information. Business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reports that the situation is now so dire that hospital management have been forced to come up with an emergency solution to the tune of NOK 2 million (USD 365,000).

Doctors at Rikshospitalet are forced to go through a tedious procedure in order to obtain images from cooperating hospitals. This could cause problems for patient care. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons, Kjetil Lenes

The project ‘Clinical work platform,’ aimed at facilitating patient information-sharing between the four hospitals that comprise the Oslo University Hospital group, was shut down in May, after the total cost of the project had already exceeded NOK 125 million (USD 23 million) and no platform had yet been established.

The problem lies in image sharing, as patients are transferred between the different hospitals. If a doctor at Rikshospitalet wishes to see X-ray scans taken at Ullevål, he must first file a requisition with his medical secretary. The secretary will then telephone the radiology department at Ullevål and request the images. A radiographer will submit these images electronically, after removing all patient information, then telephone Rikshospitalet to let them know that the image is en route, and give all patient information verbally. The radiographer will then fax a description of the image to Rikshospitalet, where staff will retrieve and register the image.

“Each time you involve an additional person or telephone conversation, you increase the risk of human error – a risk you avoid with joint IT solutions,” radiologist Kristian Fosså told DN. More than 300,000 patients were diagnosed with the aid of images at Radium/Rikshopsital, and Ullevål last year. The emergency solution presented by hospital management last week will temporarily allow doctors to log on and access information databases at all hospitals, but Fosså explains how this can be detrimental to patient care, particularly in emergency situations. “In addition to the system being highly inefficient, this also means that we do not automatically have access to all patient charts in the hospital, which will make grounds for diagnosis and treatment less than optimal.”

The controversial hospital group has been in the media limelight over several issues since the merger in 2009, most recently over illegal delays in the treatment of cancer patients and technical breakdowns. Though the failed ‘clinical work platform’ was intended for launch in the beginning of June, doctor and project manager Cathrine Lofthus was not able to confirm to DN when a more permanent solution would be in place.

Views and News from Norway/Liv Buli
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