Death blamed on out-of-hours IT

Out-of-hours IT systems will come under DoH scrutiny in the coming weeks after they were implicated in a recent death.

North London out-of-hours provider Camidoc has launched a joint review with its four commissioning PCTs into the clinical circumstances surrounding the death of journalist Penny Campbell.  

Ms Campbell died of septicaemia, caused by complications after an injection for haemorrhoids, having consulted eight different out-of-hours doctors.  

During the inquest into the death, the coroner Dr Andrew Reid said that Ms Campbell had died as a result of ‘accidental adverse healthcare’ and acknowledged that the IT system at Camidoc did not ‘ensure continuity of care’ through easy exchange of information between clinicians.  

He said that he was satisfied that the situation could not occur again because of Camidoc’s improvements to their computer systems. The DoH also confirmed that Camidoc has since improved its clinical record system.  

But the coroner said he would send a ‘Rule 43’ report to the secretary of state for health in case other out-of-hours providers were using a similar system to Camidoc.  

In November 2005, eight months after Ms Campbell’s death, Camidoc upgraded to Adastra version three at a cost to itself of £30,000–£40,000.  

Adastra managing director Lynn Woods said that upgrades were often delayed while ‘providers and commissioners negotiate how to find the investment capital’.  

Out-of-hours providers ‘have to manage with very tight revenue budgets’, she said, and often ‘upgrade lead time is measured in years rather than months’.  

The eight doctors involved in the event, six of whom are still working for Camidoc, have been asked to stand down pending the outcome of the PCT review, which will be led by an independent team of GPs from another part of London.  

The experience of one Camidoc GP  

Until December 2004, North London GP Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, one of the eight Camidoc GPs in the Penny Campbell case, was part of Hacdoc, a small co-op looking after his own and other local patients in Hackney. When Camidoc took over, he tried working sessions for the large north London out-of-hours provider.  

‘In our co-op, we were often looking after our own patients but at Camidoc I was covering the whole of north London,’ he said.  

Disappointed, Dr Fitzpatrick ‘drifted away’ from Camidoc sessions and has not worked for them since last year.  

‘I miss doing out-of-hours,’ he said. ‘I had done it for more than 20 years and I rather enjoyed it but not in this way.’  

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