NHS issues warning over ‘potential serious risks to patient safety’ posed by issues with maternity IT system

Trusts are urged to act after Euroking software from Magentus – which is reportedly used by 18 NHS organisations – has been found to overwrite, wrongly backdate or incorrectly populate patient records

NHS England has issued a formal warning over “potential serious risks to patient safety” caused by a commonly used maternity IT system overwriting data and populating patient records with incorrect information.

The health service yesterday published a National Patient Safety Alert (PSA) concerning the Euroking “maternity information system” owned by software firm Magentus. The IT platform is one of the most commonly used maternity tool across the NHS, and is implemented 18 trusts.

The NHS warning over the product says that, while “there is currently no evidence of actual harm being reported as a result of these issues”, users of the platform should be aware of the possible dangers posed to patients by problems with the software in which it overwrites sections of records or populates them with incorrect information. This could lead to clinicians working with inaccurate information – and, thus, providing inappropriate care, the alert warns.

It describes one such issue: “When a clinician opens a new pregnancy record, Euroking will have automatically copied the partner details from any previous pregnancy into this new record, which can result in incorrect management of the pregnancy and subsequent harm. Partner details can be manually updated, but the new partner details will then be back copied and overwrite those in previous pregnancy records and the partner details for any previous pregnancies will then be incorrect.”

In another instance “recording of a cervical sweep at 40 weeks’ gestation is back copied across the pregnancy record, and this clinical intervention will show as having been inappropriately undertaken at 18 weeks”, while some Euroking users have also reported that “leaving a blank data field for blood group removes any previously populated blood group data, resulting in no identifiable blood group in the patient’s record”.

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The issues with the technology could also create risks for health organisations and individual clinicians. This is exemplified by a reported problem in which referrals for domestic abuse services are wrongly backdated, as are reports from the patient of female genital mutilation, “suggesting healthcare professionals were aware of concerns earlier than they were, and had not taken appropriate action”, according to the alert.

Within the next six months, all current NHS users of the product are instructed to engage with their tech suppliers and “consider if Euroking meets their maternity service’s needs and ensure that their local configuration is safe”.  This process must be overseen by a clinical safety officer.

Trusts are also asked to check the accuracy of “each data field within the system” to ensure information has not been wrongly overwritten, copied of automated. Organisations are also encouraged to back up all clinical data. Organisations with “legacy” records stored in a Euroking environment are also advised to double check any potential issues caused by the software problems.

In light of the Euroking issues, users of all other maternity records systems are also advised to “reassess the clinical safety of their maternity EPR with a suitably qualified clinical safety officer and, as a minimum, must ensure that the issues listed… relating to the back and forward copying of information do not occur… [and] that their current maternity EPR complies with the core maternity capabilities in the [NHS] Maternity Digital Capabilities Framework”.

In a statement sent to PublicTechnology, a spokesperson for Euroking said: “Euroking is a maternity information management product which has been serving NHS trusts for more than 10 years. In recent months we have been working with NHS England to address questions relating to the way certain data fields are represented on the system. We have also provided customers with support and information to address the issues raised. We will continue to work with our customers to address the points raised in the PSA and, if necessary, transition care to updated or alternative processes and systems in conjunction with our customers’ clinical safety team.  We are proud of our safety track record and continue to prioritise patient safety in all we do. As NHS England have said, there is currently no evidence of actual harm being reported as a result of these issues.”

Sam Trendall

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