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Labor pledges to review EPAS

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The Labor Party would undertake a review of its controversial electronic health records system, EPAS, if it is returned to Government at next week’s election.

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The review would seek input from medical staff in SA Health on how to improve the Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS).

Doctors have repeatedly warned that EPAS slows down emergency carethreatens patient safety and blows out waiting lists.

Meanwhile, Labor intends to bring the program up to full functionality at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and install it at Flinders Medical Centre and Mount Gambier Hospital in 2018.

“We believe in the value of advice from our clinicians and we want to get the benefit of that to ensure our electronic patient record system is serving both patients and staff in the best way it can,” Health Minister Peter Malinauskas said.

“The rollout of EPAS is one of the most complex IT undertakings in the history of South Australia.

“With this in mind, unsurprisingly there have been complications along the way in shifting our paper-based patient records system to an electronic system that functions across local health networks.”

But Malinauskas said the program had significantly reduced the number of medication errors made in SA hospitals, from one in 20 to one in 3000.

According to SA Health, the proportion of patients leaving hospital without the correct medication has dropped from 12 per cent to 3.5 and the proportion of records that include a patient’s medication allergy has increased from 84 per cent to 94.

“Since EPAS was introduced, there have been significant improvements in patient safety, with a reduction in medication errors, better continuity of care, improved patient privacy and more efficient patient care documentation,” Malinauskas said.

“Labor would like to build on these improvements, and will undertake a review to see how we can build on the current system.

“… If you get admitted to a hospital, whether you are in the North, central Adelaide or the South, clinicians should be able to access your health record so that they can provide you with the best care for your medical condition.”

The review has been welcomed by the Australian Medical Association, which released a survey last year showing significant concerns about EPAS among doctors.

“Some of the very real concerns and issues were starkly highlighted in the AMA’s EPAS survey last year,” said AMA state president associate professor William Tam.

“The AMA (SA) has put forward the issues and fixes identified by our members.

“An independent review is a welcome step resulting from AMA(SA)’s advocacy following the survey.”

Tam said his organisation would provide the Government with “warts and all feedback from our members who use the system”.

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