Many patients at Hamad General Hospital’s emergency department this weekend have reported long waiting times – for some, up to nine hours –as the state-run facility transitions to a new electronic record-keeping system.
The hospital began rolling out the new Cerner system last week on May 6. Before implementation, HMC said digitizing patient records would reduce the possibility of transcription errors and give doctors more time with patients.
But over the past few days, as staff work to familiarize themselves with the system, some patients have complained of hours-long waits and a lack of communication about when their turn was coming.
One person who arrived at the emergency department last night with an injured child said she found a “chaotic” scene in the women’s section, as around 200 patients waited to be treated.
Some of those patients had been there for many hours, as staff grappled with the new system.
“It took staff around 20 minutes to put in each patient’s details into the new system. They were trying to figure out how to triage patients – they said if they let someone else go ahead then others already in the list get deleted from the system.
This makes no sense. What if someone’s condition deteriorates while waiting there?”
The visitor added that at around 7pm, staff said they were starting to see patients who had arrived six hours previously, at 1pm.
Meanwhile, this morning, several patients told Doha News they waited overnight to see a doctor.
Eric Resano, 46, said he was referred to Hamad’s emergency room by another clinic and brought to the hospital by an ambulance at 10pm last night, after suffering severe stomach pains.
“They called me in at 7am today. I had my previous tests. The doctor checked it and told me to wait outside,” the Filipino resident told Doha News, adding that he was still waiting to hear back from the doctor, 16 hours later.
Another patient, Ram Kamal Kurmi, said he arrived at the hospital’s ER with his friend at 10pm last night, and that his friend was finally called in to see a doctor at 7:30am. However at 2pm, he said he was still waiting for further tests.
A third patient, Hari Bahadur Poudel Chhatri, 36, arrived at the hospital’s emergency department at 9am after suffering severe stomach pains.
He told Doha News he had been waiting nearly five hours to see a medical professional.
For others, the wait was shorter. Lal Modgul, 60, a Pakistani resident, was brought in to the ER by ambulance at 11am today after fainting at work.
He said he was checked relatively quickly, and was waiting for medication at 2pm.
‘Period of transition’
For its part, Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) said the roll-out of the new system at Hamad General Hospital followed “successful CIS (clinical information system) implementation in seven HMC hospitals, Pediatric Emergency Centers, Dialysis Centers, Bone and Joint Center and a number of PHCC Health Centers across the country. “
In a statement, HMC said the new system involved more than one million records and advised of a “period of transition for staff and patients.”
It also warned patients that first visits to the ER may take “longer than usual.”
“Hamad General Hospital sees more than 1,000 patients each day and as this is a comprehensive, large-scale implementation in our busiest hospital, there is a period of transition for both staff and patients.
Staff at Hamad General Hospital needs to gather more information from patients in order to register them in the new system and this means that first appointments and initial visits to the Emergency Department take longer than usual.”
Last year, HMC issued a report that found demand for emergency medical care in Qatar has been soaring, in part due to patients seeking non-urgent treatment.
To help cope with the influx, a trauma and emergency department is being built at Hamad General Hospital to increase its emergency facilities three-fold.
In its statement today, HMC said the ER continues to implement its triage system, seeing the sickest patients first.
Patients with non-urgent conditions are advised to visit their nearest Primary Health Care Corporation Center.
The state provider concluded:
“The implementation of this system has gone to plan and this is thanks to our patients’ cooperation in arriving at appointments on time and bringing the necessary documentation needed for registration.”