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Patient records wiped out in system crash

A computer system crash may have lost 50,000 patient records from 14 clinics and two major hospitals in southern Sweden. Three weeks later, a Norwegian company is still attempting to recover the documents.

When the computer systems in Skåne crashed on August 22, not only did it take with it patient appointments and prescriptions, but it may have wiped out up to 50,000 patient records.

Region Skåne, the self-governing authority for south of Sweden, shipped the affected hard drives to a Norwegian company that specializes in data recovery in an attempt resuscitate vital patient information.

”The job is still on-going and they’ve had to bring in specialists from the United States,” Lennart Wallen, who, until earlier September served as the IT-Director for Region Skåne, told Dagen’s Nyheter (DN).

The cause of the system crash is still not known and the exact extent of lost information has yet to be determined, which has raised grave concern within the National Board of Health and Welfare’s (Socialstyrelsen) southern region’s branch.

”We have never before lost so much information,” Mette Marklund, director of the National Board of Health and Welfare’s Southern Region, told DN. ”It can be a great risk to patient safety when we do not have access to adequate information. But, we do not know yet what to rebuild.”

IT-departments in Skåne managed to rescue ’reading copies’ of patient records, but no one is able to confirm if this version of patient records is complete or identify what may be missing.

After the system-wide crash, medical staff resorted to pen and paper for medical notes and continues to manage lab results manually.

”The databases are still broken, so sometimes you cannot get hold of the data you are looking for. It is quite a sluggish job,” Marklund added. ”We believe that we have not really lost any data, but we won’t know with certainty until we hear from Norway.”

Region Skåne is scheduled to launch a central medical record system for the entire nation in 2012.

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TRANSGENDER

Sweden to stop calling transgender people ‘mentally ill’

Transgender people will no longer be classified as “mentally ill” in Sweden, the country’s main national health authority has announced, in a decision widely criticised as overdue.

Sweden to stop calling transgender people 'mentally ill'
An archive picture of Swedes protesting against classifying transgender people as mentally ill. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, or Socialstyrelsen, announced late on Friday that it would no longer automatically apply the diagnosis “gender dysphoria” to transgender patients.
 
“…more than anything, this change has an important symbolic value,” Kristina Bränd Persson, the organisation’s head, said in a press release. “This is a completely reasonable change. Many divisions and categories are obsolete. For us, the decision is uncontroversial. We tend to follow the changes the WHO makes.” 
 
The decision was widely ridiculed on Twitter.  
 
“At fucking bloody last!” tweeted Leo Ringqvist. “We are not ill, most of all mentally.”  
 

“Wake me! Is it 2017 or 1817,” complained Ewa-Maria Åström. 
 

 
The move follows a decision made by the World Health Organisation in October to remove the transsexualism classification from the chapter on mental illness in its diagnostic guide.  
 
“This is welcome but no surprise,” said Frida Sandegård, chairperson of RFSL, which lobbies for the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender people.  
 
Transgender people have complained of receiving unwelcome questions and stigmatising treatment when dealing with health professionals in Sweden. 
 
The agency said the change would not take place immediately, as it would first have to incorporate the decision into its own national version of ICD-10, the latest disease classification manual issued by the WHO. 
 
The work is expected to be completed this year.