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Death highlights IT failings

8th November 2006

09052006_laptopstethoscope1.jpgThe use of handwritten clinical notes in out-of-hours care has been highlighted following the death of a woman who spoke to eight different doctors over a bank holiday weekend.

An inquest into the death of Penny Campbell heard how an electronic record system might have alerted doctors to her condition over the four-day period by providing ready access to previous clinical notes.

Now the case has raised wider questions over the financial pressures faced by out-of-hours services when it comes to IT upgrades.

Ms Campbell died after a series of doctors from the Camidoc out-of-hours service in north London failed to diagnose septicaemia following an injection for haemorrhoids.

It became apparent that the GPs were working on paper, with no on-screen patient notes available.

Coroner Andrew Reid notified health secretary Patricia Hewitt of the case after he ruled that crucial clinical information had been missing or not always available, but he said there had not been a gross lack of medical attention.

An independent inquiry will look at the impact that access to information may have had on the clinical decisions made by the Camidoc GPs. The service switched to using e-records in November last year, eight months after Campbellā€™s death.

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