West Suffolk Hospital patient records checked after discharge letter software error

West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds

Picture Mark Westley
West Suffolk Hospital Bury St Edmunds Picture Mark Westley

More than 3,700 patients’ records are being checked after new software put the wrong medication details in hospital discharge letters.

The error came to light when doctors questioned medication on letters from West Suffolk Hospital

A Bury GP told the Bury Free Press his practice feared patients could be harmed if doses quoted were too high or low. He said his practice had a man collapse because a dose in his letter was too low, while another patient’s letter said he was still on a ‘toxic heart drug’ which had been stopped during his hospital stay.

The doctor said GPs had been offered a payment for the extra work in checking patients but were advised this could have made them liable for any mistakes.

Simon Jones, chief executive of Suffolk Local Medical Committee, which represents the county’s GPs, said: “Suffolk LMC has been working with the hospital on behalf of all of our GPs to support an ongoing, systematic review of discharge letters to see if there have been any mistakes.”

West Suffolk Hospital said the software was launched in April, 2016, and the problem discovered in May, 2017. Not all letters were created using it but it has identified 3,709 patients who could be affected.

Nick Jenkins, medical director at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “When we discovered the error, we immediately stopped the use of this part of the electronic system and implemented a manual process.

“This remained in place until the technical issue was resolved with our digital partner, Cerner, the system developer, and until we had arranged additional training for our staff. No patient information has been inappropriately shared.

“We have identified the patient records that need to be reviewed, and a team of pharmacists, GPs and hospital clinicians are working together to look at each case. In the rare event that a patient has been affected detrimentally we will contact them directly, but to date our investigation has not revealed any patient harm.

“We are very concerned that a GP has stated they have identified concerns but not yet reported them to us for investigation. It’s essential they do so.

“We are very sorry for any worry or uncertainty this may cause our patients. We are investigating this as a serious incident and we would like to reassure our patients and community that we will continue to make this a priority.”

If patients are concerned they can contact WSH Patient Advice and Liaison Service at PALS@wsh.nhs.uk or 01284 712555.