Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1808..
In particular, downgrades of patients' urgency category, often without documented clinical reasons ...
The Health Director-General's statement regarding discrepancies in emergency department data states:
It appears that waiting and treatment times have been altered on some records without authority ...
Minister, why have there been two serious incidents of altered records without authority in your directorate discovered in under 18 months?
MS GALLAGHER: Again the Liberal Party seeks to conflate the two issues. One was around data processes and really recording processes that involved surgeons and administrative staff at the Canberra Hospital and how they organised the elective surgery waiting list. There were no allegations at all that data had been deliberately manipulated to deliver a particular outcome. Yes, we have had to crack down on the doctors and the surgical booking area to ensure that all of those i's are dotted and t's are crossed. But it was procedural. Those are not requirements. The consent forms and the requests for admission forms are all for administrative purposes to run a surgical stream.
The issue in the emergency department is very different—very different indeed. What happened there is that it appears that an individual has changed data without authority after that data has been validated. The processes are there. They are the right processes. But somebody, for an unknown reason, has gone around the safeguards that exist to change that data.
They are completely separate. Yes, I would prefer that neither of them had happened. I think all of us do. We do have processes across the Health Directorate to ensure the integrity of data. Yes, we need to have a good, hard look at that and make sure that if there are improvements they are made. But I do not accept that the two issues are the same. We have responded strongly with the elective surgery one in recommendations from the Auditor-General. And indeed all of the surgeons and the staff have worked hard to implement those recommendations to ensure that the processes there, particularly the administrative processes, are robust and everyone can understand the reasons why someone's category number might be changed. That has been done. There is another process underway in the emergency department but the two issues are not linked.
MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Hanson.
MR HANSON: Minister, how can the community be confident there are not other incidents of records which have been altered without authority that they have not been made aware of?
MS GALLAGHER: The community can have confidence in the sense that where problems are identified we are being up-front about those problems.