Software glitch affects 615 patients in Newfoundland and Labrador
System issue delays transfer of records to physicians
The Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) has identified a glitch in its system that failed to transfer information to attending physicians.
The TELUS Health’s Medical Access System failed to transfer results to the 163 health care centres awaiting those results due to a glitch in an algorithm in the TELUS Health program.
“We have been made aware of 615 patients who may not have received their medical results in a timely manner. This is a serious issue,” Minister of Health and Community Services John Haggie said Monday morning, Dec. 3, at a news conference at Confederation Building.
“Safety and full disclosure to those impacted are my primary concerns. I have directed NLCHI to take immediate action to correct this situation. They are in the process of contacting all those impacted, and an investigation is underway.”
The Electronic Medical Record is a computer-based program designed for use by physicians and other health care providers. The program is jointly governed by NLCHI, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) and the Department of Health, while the software provider for the program is TELUS Health.
These issues were not targeted to one particular area, but are spread randomly across Newfoundland and Labrador.
Haggie was joined at the podium by Stephen Clark, president and acting CEO of the Centre for Health Information, and Dr. Kris Aubrey-Bassler, chair of the NLCHI board of directors.
“The amount of people affected was a small number. There were 1.5 million transactions handled by the system and only a small number of them didn’t get through,” Clark said.
Eastern Health’s quality and risk management department is leading a quality-assessment review in conjunction with NLCHI and the other regional health authorities — a case-bycase investigation, designed to improve the administration, monitoring and oversight of the program to ensure this does not happen again.
NLCHI has notified all health care providers who were using the software. They have been asked to contact patients directly if additional follow-up is required.
All affected patients are being notified by NLCHI via mail or courier, and those patients are encouraged to follow-up with their doctor if they have any questions.
In addition to this problem occurring in Newfoundland and Labrador, other jurisdictions that have been affected by the TELUS Health glitch are Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta.
The numbers for these provinces are unknown at this time.
“We have been assured by TELUS Health the root cause has been identified and corrected,’’ Clark said.
Haggie said he is looking for TELUS Health to improve the system so there is zero risk to anyone in the health care system.
Early indicators in the study of the glitch show there to be a random occurrence of information not being processed, but no critical care to any of the patients was delayed, because checks and balances in the system allowed the information to reach physicians.
The error involved medical results that occurred between November 2017 and November 2018.
TELUS Health was notified Oct. 29 by a Newfoundland and Labrador family physician about a missing patient result. After a two-week investigation, TELUS Health notified the NLCHI of a software issue on Nov. 14, when the NLCHI engaged TELUS and other stakeholders to understand the issue at hand, notify health care providers and find a fix for the issue.
On Nov. 21, Haggie set in motion a process that would see an analysis done of the issue to be completed by NLCHI as quickly as possible. This five-day analysis started on Nov. 22 that required a substantial check to ensure all of the information was attributed to the correct patient and was completed on Nov. 27.
The following day, Nov. 28, the full scope of the glitch was disclosed and a decision was made to notify all of the affected patients in addition to speaking with respective health care providers regarding the patients’ notification.
Those patients were to be notified via courier and registered mail on Monday.
TELUS Health has members of its technical staff on site this week to review the software and monitor it to ensure it is working correctly.