WA public pharmacy hit by IT malfunction


Public hospitals in WA had to return to the days of paper prescriptions last week, when information technology systems went down

WA Health’s Chief Health Officer Dr Andy Robertson told Radio 6PR’s Mornings with Gareth Parker that the “major IT outage” was “frustrating” and “impacting right across the board within the Department as well as all the clinical services”.

The outage began on Wednesday evening and was still going as of the weekend.

“What happened on Wednesday night is that our web-based IT programs had a malfunction, and that was a result of some of the patch upgrades to some of the switches within our data centre,” Dr Robertson told Mr Parker.

“Subsequently they went to rectify that we then had to move it across to our backup data centre.”

The backup data centre was functioning, but not to the point where it could handle everything, he said.

“There is a lot of load that comes from our daily business and that has led to some systems not working fully and some systems being very slow.”

Patients weren’t being affected, he said, though there were some minor disruptions to services.

Dr Robertson encouraged patients to keep appointments as scheduled, but warned that “prescriptions may take a bit longer to be provided, so some of the services will take a little bit longer, but certainly we’re continuing to provide the services that we normally would”.

“The procedures that we use, the downtime procedures… it would depend a bit on the area but some of it will be going back to paper records as required and some of it will be writing scripts on paper.

“But a number of the systems still are still working. It’s just that in certain areas… and pharmacy is one area where we’re having some challenges, but we’ll go to paper-driven systems.”

Appointments at one chemotherapy clinic had to be postponed on Friday but “we’re keeping an eye on all of the services” to ensure they continued to run, Dr Robertson said.

He said he was confident the issue was being addressed and that the solution would be permanent.

“Patient safety and ensuring they get the treatment they require is a key focus.”

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