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Hospitals must digitise patients’ records, nearly 100 files missing, data watchdog says

Nicosia general hospital

Nicosia general hospital has lost 94 patient medical records since 2016 that are nowhere to be found, personal data protection commissioner Irene Loizidou Nicolaidou said on Thursday.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, she said this posed a serious risk and as outlined in the latest audit report for the hospital, three patients had filed a complaint for which the hospital had to pay a €3,000 fine each.

Though the health ministry has been studying creating digital medical records for patients since 2012, nothing has been implemented as of yet, Nicolaidou said.

“It is common knowledge that there is an urgent need to speed up the implementation of patient’s digital data storage. Until this can be done, it is urgent that medical patient records in paper form are correctly archived and filed.”

The current system allows tampering with the contents of the file for which the hospital will be held responsible for, Nicolaidou said stipulating the only way to solve this is by creating digital records.

She also called on hospitals to stop giving files to the patients.

An audit report published earlier this week for Nicosia general hospital concerning the year 2016 outlined that a large number of medical reports had not been prepared because the patient records could not be found.

In total, 94 records were missing for which the audit service recommended an investigation be carried out to try and locate them.

The report said that despite extra storage created to increase space for patient records from 100,000 to 250,000 the number amounted to 359,000 in 2016.

As a result, files are placed in boxes which makes them particularly difficult to locate.

According to Loizidou, one complaint was filed in January last year and two in February. The hefty fines were imposed because the problem has continued to exist for years and nothing has been done about it.

The audit report also found that requests for medical reports take a long time to prepare. Often times because of the delay patients do not even bother picking them up making them a waste of money.

Medical reports are made on request by patients, lawyers acting on their behalf, police or the national guard.

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