Solution to hospital data fiddle not ready
A key computer security measure designed to prevent a repeat of last year's Canberra Hospital data doctoring affair is unlikely to be rolled out across the ACT Health Directorate before next year.
Canberra Hospital said in March it would push ahead with computer system upgrades to avoid a repeat of the problem.
More than a year after Canberra Hospital executive Kate Jackson admitted making changes to emergency department performance results, police are still investigating what occurred.
An ACT Legislative Assembly committee last year recommended that the Health Directorate introduce ''rapid log-in'' technology designed to improve computer security without interfering with patient care.
In a response to recommendations tabled in the Assembly last week by Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, the government revealed a pilot of the technology may not be completed until the end of this year.
The government also "noted", but did not formally accept, a recommendation that an apology be issued to Ms Jackson for officials inadvertently providing the media with a copy of a letter that named her.
Ms Jackson - and possibly other Health staff - was able to alter data in the Emergency Department Information System without detection because hundreds of staff had had been issued with generic log-ins such as "nurse'' and doctor''.
Computer security was subsequently improved but hospital officials were reluctant to force emergency department staff to constantly log-on and off computers when accessing patient records because this could bring the unit to a "grinding halt''.
"The completion of [a rapid log-in pilot scheme] will result in a recommendation and costs for consideration by the organisation to proceed to widespread implementation within the Health Directorate and its diverse applications,'' the government response said.
"The pilot timeframe is expected to be completed by end of December 2013 with the resulting cost model and implementation plan to be considered by the Health Directorate.''
The Canberra Hospital emergency department was likely to be one of the first parts of the hospital to receive the technology when a roll-out began.
The Health Directorate has already put other measures in place to improve data integrity and is recruiting a Director of Data Integrity.
The government neither formally accepted nor rejected a committee recommendation that Ms Jackson be issued with a formal apology after her name was published in documents distributed to the media last year.
"The naming of the executive who admitted fault for altering emergency department data at Canberra Hospital was unfortunate,'' the response said. ''It was not the intention of the ACT government Health Directorate, or the ACT government to have this person's name revealed, although legal advice indicated that there was no reason to withhold the staff member's name.''
The response said Ms Jackson had a longstanding career as a nurse, director of emergency department nursing and executive director of the critical care division.
"It is unfortunate that the hard work and commitment of this individual over a long period has been overshadowed by more recent events.''