Manual capturing of patient data in Eastern Cape criticised

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The manual capturing of patient data in public hospitals has once again come under fire, after an East London man accused Cecilia Makiwane Hospital staff of negligent and reckless handling of his wife’s patient file. But, says a Daily Dispatch report, Eastern Cape Public Health head Mthandeki Xhamlashe defended the system, saying the file was not lost, but might have been caught in the process of moving of patient files in regional hospitals so that they could be stored electronically. The department is rolling out its new digitised electronic filing project.

The report says Simphiwe Sinyabi from Mdantsane lambasted hospital staff for losing his wife’s files twice in one week. Sinyabi’s wife, a meningitis patient at the regional hospital, arrived at Cecilia Makiwane expecting to find her patient file, but was informed it was “lost”, and she would have to create a new one. The file was created, and new tests were done on her as no information on her condition existed. She was told to return last Thursday for the results of her tests, but when she arrived that morning, her file had again gone missing and no records of her were found on hospital systems.

Sinyabi said: “She [my wife] had to endure those painful sample procedures all over again because of the hospital staff’s recklessness. On records, the file was signed for, but there’s no trace of it now. This delayed even her diagnoses because they didn’t know what was wrong with her.”

He accused the hospital of not caring for patients’ lives, the report says. “If they’re able to lose patient files that contain personal information, it shows that they don’t care about the lives of the people they treat. Even her health condition wouldn’t have escalated to this point. She could’ve lost her life because of delays in getting her admitted,” he said.

However, Xhamlashe said the patient files might not be getting lost in hospitals, but could be misplaced in their storage process. He is quoted in the report as saying that the shifts in data-capturing processes happening in hospitals in Buffalo City Metro and the Amathole District Municipality may be the cause of disorientation in accessing patient files. “When this kind of change is happening, some files have already been taken for e-capturing, thus making it difficult for these to be accessed. But it’s something we’re dealing with.”

Xhamlashe said the digitisation project in the province would take two years to complete. “It’s a work in progress, but we’re moving towards one single integrated electronic filing system. Walking into the hospital and having your file created manually will be a thing of the past.”

Daily Dispatch report

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