ACT News


Revealed: how data tamperer confessed

A senior executive said she ''lost'' herself while falsifying thousands of patient records at the Canberra Hospital's emergency department, official documents show.

Contemporary records of Kate Jackson's confession to being the central figure in last year's data-doctoring scandal record the executive director of critical care telling her superiors that she stopped tampering with patients' records, because she ''just couldn't do it any more''.

The documents, released by the ACT government under freedom-of-information laws, show the clinical director of the emergency department felt sidelined by the government response to the scandal and repeatedly asked for a greater role.

According to handwritten notes by ACT Health director-general Peggy Brown, Ms Jackson telephoned the health boss on the night of Friday, April 21, two weeks after the data tampering was discovered and asked for a meeting.

When the two women caught up at the department's Civic headquarters the following morning, according to Dr Brown's notes, the younger woman told her she was accepting responsibility for the data tampering.

''I mean I did it,'' Ms Jackson told her boss. When asked for an explanation, the senior nurse told the director-general that she did not understand her own behaviour.


''I'm disappointed in myself. I mean, I can't even understand it myself. It's like I lost myself,'' she reportedly said.

Ms Jackson told Dr Brown that she blamed no ''external factors'' for her conduct.

''When specifically queried (x2) she denied accepting the blame for someone else,'' the notes say.

''She also stated there were no external factors (in environment/service/management) that contributed. I make no excuses.''

More than 11,700 patient records were found to have been doctored between 2009 and 2012 to make the performance of the emergency department look better, with the scandal haunting the ACT Labor government for several months mid-last year.

Ms Jackson, who resigned last August under the threat of dismissal, told the Auditor-General's investigation that she blamed the ''environment'' at the hospital.

''The environment in the executive at Canberra Hospital has increasingly become one where I felt fearful for myself and for other people that I work with,'' Ms Jackson wrote.

The documents also show the concerns of emergency department clinical director Mike Hall about the government's response.

''I am in the position where I have far and away the greatest understanding of what has happened, and at least part of why it has happened, yet I am not fully sure that those who need to make decisions about this are as fully understanding of all these issues,'' Dr Hall wrote to Dr Brown on April 22.

On May 1, Dr Hall wrote to Canberra Hospital general manager Lee Martin, urging the hospital boss to hold a meeting with emergency department staff.

''I still do not feel that the people making some of the final decisions (Peggy and the minister) necessarily completely understand ED processes,'' Dr Hall wrote.

''There is a huge risk of decisions being made that will make my staff's job infinitely more difficult. As you know, they are already under incredible pressure.''


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