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Taskforce To Review Pathology Test Delays

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A new taskforce has been established to improve SA Pathology testing times following delays to some test results since the introduction of a new pathology IT system.

The taskforce will review all incidents relating to test delays that have been logged in SA Health’s Safety Learning System.

SA Health Deputy Chief Executive, Don Frater, said the increase in test turnaround times is largely due to complex initial data-entry requirements associated with the roll out of the new state-wide pathology recording system, EPLIS.

“Since the introduction of EPLIS we have seen the wait times for some laboratory test results increase for hospitals and GPs,” Mr Frater said.

“We know timely test results are essential in providing prompt and appropriate care for patients, and these delays have the potential to impact the level of care being provided.”

“We have established a taskforce, headed by Dr Tom Stubbs, to look at the reasons for the delays, to determine the impact on patient outcomes, and to recommend any additional action needed to ensure test turnaround times return to normal.

“Following feedback from clinicians, the taskforce will also review the reporting format for the test results and if any errors have occurred as a result.

“In the interim, all urgent tests are being prioritised and an action plan has been developed by SA Pathology to improve the timeliness of pathology test results for doctors.”

These actions include hiring 30 staff to assist with the additional data entry complexities associated with the new system.

In addition to employing extra staff, SA Pathology is also:

  • Implementing new systems to reduce transit times for urgent tests
  • Working with the EPLIS provider to improve system performance
  • Providing additional training and re-assigning some existing staff to data entry roles
  • Expediting the transition to full electronic test ordering at Royal Adelaide Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital to reduce the data entry requirement for SA Pathology staff

Mr Frater said the actions taken were expected to assist in returning the testing turn around times return to normal levels in the coming weeks.

“Our clinicians have been instructed how to request and receive results for critical and urgent tests during this time as we resolve this issue,” Mr Frater said.

The EPLIS roll out began at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in March 2017 and all SA metropolitan hospitals and regional laboratories are now using the system.

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