Soft­ware glitch af­fects 615 pa­tients in New­found­land and Labrador

Sys­tem is­sue de­lays trans­fer of records to physi­cians

The Packet (Clarenville) - - Front page - BY SAM MCNEISH [email protected]­gram.com

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.

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