People wait outside the entrance of the emergency room at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital

UPDATED: Island Health rejects doctors’ plea to suspend iHealth at ‘hospital in crisis’

Use of electronic record-keeping system to continue in Nanaimo while health authority looks for ways to build trust, reduce fatigue

Island Health listened to doctors deliver a formal non-confidence vote Wednesday in a new system that has created a “hospital in crisis.”

It decided to go with a second opinion.

Vancouver Island’s health authority has rejected a last-ditch plea from Nanaimo doctors to suspend use of the controversial $178-million iHealth paperless record-keeping system until its issues are rectified.

Instead, the system will continue operating while immediate steps are taken to address staff fatigue and boost staff trust.

The decision comes at the recommendation of the Health Authority Medical Advisory Committee, a team of medical professionals that determined current staff distress and fatigue was due to “resource gaps.”

HAMAC advised urgent action to alleviate the workload and find ways to improve how iHealth is being utilized, as well as reviews at least monthly of the effectiveness of those steps.

Ultimately, Island Health decided the issues being experienced are tied to inadequate staff support, rather than the system itself.

That’s not what Nanaimo doctors wanted to hear.

“Our request was to remove the ordering system while they work on it and reintroduce it when certain goals are met,” said Nanaimo Medical Staff Association treasurer Dr. Alison Croome.

“We feel it’s a reasonable request and that the safety concerns are sufficient. They are confident in their safety data and they feel our concerns are unfounded.”

The NMSA stated its case in a June 29 presentation to the board, led by vice-president Dr. Tony Booth. Booth said the implementation of iHealth has created a crisis at NRGH that has gone unrecognized by an Island Health report that concluded the system was working as intended.

“This report lacks face validity, meaning there are inconsistencies in this report compared with the real-life experiences of the physicians using the system,” he said. “Since the iHealth launch (there has) been a multitude of physician-reported major safety issues from every department that deals with acute patient care.

“We do not want a catastrophic event to occur in order to have our concerns heard. We do not feel that it is ethical to put patient at risk using a system that makes it difficult to ‘do the right thing’ and much easier to make a significant error.”

Implemented in March at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Nanaimo’s Dufferin extended care facility and the Oceanside Health Centre in Parksville, iHealth is design to eliminate the use of paper in the recording of medical diagnosis and treatment. Island Health plans to implement it Island-wide after any kinks are worked out.

Medical staff concerns have centred on how the system has slowed the pace of treatment in critical areas like the hospital’s emergency room and intensive care unit and resulted in missing or misplaced orders, putting patient health at risk.

Staff at the NRGH ER and ICU have been using paper orders — which are then copied into iHealth — for about a month now as a precautionary measure and a means to expedite treatment.

Booth said doctors are concerned that the administration’s pride in the system is getting in the way of a solution.

“We ask you the board what price is willing to be paid to continue a system whose benefits are as yet theoretical but whose side effects are very real?”

According to Croome the doctors will regroup to discuss what, if any, further steps should be taken.

“We have not decided to take any action, as of yet,” she said. “There are no other steps we can take with the health authority.”

Island Health CEO Dr. Brendan Carr responds to this issue here.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MLAs say Parksville will better prepared for flooding emergencies

RDN receives $150K in funding for Englishman River Flood Hazard Mapping project

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Parksville man, 95, gets lifetime achievement award for civil rights work

Bill Duncan worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago

71-unit rental apartment building proposed in downtown Parksville

Open house will take place before second reading of bylaw amendment

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

17-year-old girl from Nanaimo reported missing

RCMP asking for help finding Trisha Harry

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Young tourist caught untying boats from Ucluelet dock

‘He was just untying the boats and watching them float away’

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Most Read