Earlier this month (4 Sep), it was reported that over 800 GP patients had receive mislabelled medicine after a glitch hit the Ministry of Health's GPConnect system.
One patient was told to take 10 bottles of cough mixture each time, instead of 10ml. Another had to take two strips, instead of two tablets. The glitch hit some 104 GP clinics which have subscribed to MOH's GPConnect service.
Launched last year, GPConnect is a clinical and administrative system that allows GPs to submit patient data to the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) operated by the Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), the MOH IT organisation that caters to medical practice. TOC understands that the SingHealth medical database which was hacked this year, is also managed by IHiS.
GPs are signing on to GPConnect because of the requirement for all doctors to submit patient data online to the NEHR after the Healthcare Services Bill is enacted.
But GPs have been complaining about the instability of the system. A GP who complained to IHiS about the mislabelling problem was told that it was his clinic's fault for not checking, according to the ST report.
Today (19 Sep), Ms Phyllis Yap, Director of Primary Care at IHiS, wrote to ST Forum attributing the mislabelling IT glitch to an IT vendor. But at the same time, she apologised for the error on behalf of IHiS.
"Patient safety is our priority, as is the case for our GPConnect clinics providing patient care. We apologise for the error," she said.
"Initial investigation showed that the vendor made some changes which were unrelated to the upgrade, hence the user acceptance tests which were designed to evaluate the upgrade were unable to pick up on the error. The vendor also did not report any errors from other tests."
It's not known why the IT vendor made changes to the system that were unrelated to the upgrade. Ms Yap also didn't reveal who the IT vendor was but promised to review and strengthen the testing procedure so as to prevent such errors in future.
"We will also step up monitoring of software roll-outs and enhance our response to support our users," she said.
And with regard to a GP accusing a IHiS support staff of blaming him for not counter-checking the misprinted labels, Ms Yap said it was "inaccurate".
"A media report said that our staff had told a GPConnect clinic that 'it was his clinic's fault for not checking'. We have checked the correspondence. We wish to clarify that this statement was inaccurate," she said.
In other words, she is saying that her staff has never said such thing and the GP must have been mistaken or worse, lying.
"We take our responsibility very seriously and value the working relationship we have with all our partners, including clinics using GPConnect. We will continue to do our utmost to render all necessary support," Ms Yap added.