Technology issues & adverse medical outcomes

Following not long after a coroner’s criticism of the use of an archaic letter system to communicate time sensitive results to a general practitioner, a Queensland coroner has commented on communication issues arising from uncharged mobile phones when on call and limited voicemail systems.

In the Inquest into the death of Verris Dawn Wright and Jasmyn Louise Carter, the deputy state coroner noted at [36] that:

  • A ward handsfree phone had not been charged;
  • A hospital mobile phone was flat and left in a doctor’s car, as he did not have a charger for it over Christmas;
  • The doctor did not like receiving long messages so used a voice to text service with 10 second message limit.

The rather complex series of communication problems that arose are detailed in the coronial findings, the conclusions of which included a comment that the failure by the doctor to have his phone charged or to advise the hospital of an alternative telephone number was inexcusable (at [131]).

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