Newcastle Hospitals blames lost patient correspondence on a computer error

According to what the sources have uncovered, a hospital trust failed to send out 24,000 letters from senior doctors to patients and their general practitioners because the letters were lost in a new computer system.

The warning came from Newcastle Hospitals, which noted that the issue, which dates back to 2018, is a serious one.

The regulatory body for the healthcare industry has requested urgent assurances about patient safety. The staff has been instructed to document any instances that result in patients being harmed and to ensure that these problems are resolved.

After the government agency that oversees health care, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), carried out one of its routine inspections during the summer, employees at the trust voiced their worries about the length of time it took to send out mail.

After further investigation, it was found that the majority of the trust's consultants had unsent letters stored in their electronic record accounts.

The majority of the letters detail the procedures that should be followed when patients are released from the hospital. However, a sizable portion of the letters that have not been delivered have been penned by specialized clinics and detail the treatment that is required for patients.

The Newcastle trust states in a letter that was issued to staff about the problem and that it was seen by the sources that letters that were produced by one member of staff need to be signed off by a second physician before they can be distributed. The letter was sent to staff.

In the event that this does not occur, the letters will be placed in the document folder of a consultant and will remain there until they are duly signed off.

Sarah Dronsfield, the CQC's interim director of operations in the North, stated that they took immediate action to request additional information from the trust to understand the extent to which people may be at risk.

They also evidence of the steps being taken to review the impact on patients, ensure people's safety, and mitigate any future risk of avoidable treatment delays.

She stated that the trust had submitted an action plan and offered to provide weekly updates on the plan's progress.

The trust says it will promptly address a backlog of 6,000 letters from the past year. Over 1,200 of these involve medicine and emergency care. Some letters may be duplicates or have been created by mistake.

Dr. George Rae, a general practitioner and chairman of the North East BMA Council, stated that the letters would contain an incredible amount of information. He stated that GPs would be absolutely unaware of a change in medication or treatment if a patient was hospitalized and given a significant diagnosis.

Martin Wilson, chief operating officer of Newcastle Hospitals, wanted to reassure patients that immediate steps are being taken to address the issue.

The hospital trust stated that it was investigating whether the incident had affected ongoing patient care and treatment.

The trust is currently reviewing 24,000 documents from its electronic archives. The CQC stated that it was closely monitoring the trust and could conduct an inspection at any time if it had any concerns.