British Columbia

B.C. to conduct review of IHealth system at Nanaimo General Hospital

The provincial government and Island Health have agreed to launch a review of a new electronic heath record system at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital following doctor complaints that it's compromising patient safety.

Physicians and staff at the hospital say the electronic records system compromises patient safety

The new workstations on wheels at Nanaimo General Hospital allow doctors and nurses to put patient information directly into an electronic health record. (Island Health)

The provincial government and Island Health have agreed to launch a review of a new electronic heath record system at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital following doctor complaints that it's compromising patient safety.

The province said it appointed Dr. Doug Cochrane, chair of the B.C. patient safety and quality council, to lead the review after the Health Ministry met with Island Health and doctors and staff at the hospital. 

"This review is to acknowledge and address the concerns that have been raised, with the goal of ensuring safe, quality care for patients," said Health Minister Terry Lake in a written statement. 

Dr. Doug Cochrane is a provincial patient safety and quality officer for B.C. and chair of the B.C. patient safety and quality council. (Province of B.C.)

Doctors say the new IHealth paperless system, implemented this spring and developed by U.S. company Cerner, is cumbersome, prone to inputting errors, and has led to problems with medication orders. 

The system uses computer workstations on wheels to centralize digital records. 

Doctors called for a full, independent review of the system earlier this month, with the NDP joining their cause shortly afterwards. 

Island Health did conduct a partial internal review in response to concerns but decided not to pull the electronic system. It has consistently maintained that patient safety has not been put at risk and electronic record keeping will improve care.

"We undertook this massive change in clinical practice, understanding it would take significant ongoing efforts to improve and stabilize the system," said Island Health CEO Dr. Brendan Carr in a written statement.

"We remain committed to ensuring electronic health records support the highest-quality and safest patient care possible."

Dr. David Forrest, president of the Nanaimo medical staff association, said the group felt "very positively" about the review.

Forrest said the medical staff is also committed to the principles of electronic health records. 

"We recognize the importance of the initiative in Nanaimo and its implications for the province of its success here," he said, adding staff look forward to working with a system that's safe and improves patient care. 

"We're grateful the review is happening as expeditiously as it can."

The review is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2016. 

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