SA e-Health system could cause fatalities



blog It used to be pretty rare that Australia would see an IT system implemented or maintained so poorly that it had the potential to cause fatalities or serious injury. But not any more. This year we’ve seen three such cases in Victoria alone, linked separately to failing IT systems at Victoria Police (which actually did result in several deaths), a Victorian hospital and, most worryingly, with relation to children’s safety under the care of the Department of Human Services. Well, last week South Australia got its own potentially fatal IT system. Adelaide news site InDaily writes about the state’s new Enterprise Patient Administration System (we recommend you click here for the full article):

InDaily has obtained an extraordinary letter, dated February 14, 2014, in which the Flinders and Far North Doctors Association warns SA Health CEO David Swan that the e-health system could cause a patient’s death. “We are concerned that it is only a matter of time before there is a significant EPAS related mishap or fatality,” the letter said.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Australia’s State Governments are in crisis right now when it comes to fundamental ICT project and service delivery. Aside from a few bright spots, as a basic rule, our state governments cannot deliver major ICT projects (especially in areas such as e-health and law enforcement), and they cannot provide their departments and agencies with acceptable ICT services. Now that problem is starting to endanger lives. It’s a harsh reality, but one government technologists need to urgently face. Otherwise, as our doctors are warning, there will be deadly consequences.


  1. It sounds very much like they didn’t do the organisational change work at Port Augusta which isn’t surprising given the attitudes of a number of SA Health staff towards doing it in the first place.

    I also note that only 2 of the metropolitan hospitals have been implemented : Noarlunga Health Service and Repatriation General Hospital, both of them low volume. I hope that they get the kinks ironed out before they deploy it to one of the major hospitals like Royal Adelaide or Flinders Medical Centre or there will be serious issues.

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