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Concern at technical error which led to failure to send out thousands of patient letters

A leading clinical negligence solicitor has voiced her concern after it was revealed that 28,000 patient letters were not sent out from the Royal Free Hospital in Camden.

17 February 2020

The Camden New Journal reported that an investigation has been launched by the major teaching hospital in Hampstead after the mistake was discovered.

The issue was blamed on a computer coding problem as part of updates to a digital system run by US health tech company, Cerner.

It is reported that the ‘technical error’ led to 28,563 letters concerning 22,144 patients not being delivered to patients and doctors’ surgeries during a six-month period up to January 2020. 

The issue has now been fixed, according to a statement attributed to the Royal Free, which also said the NHS Trust would ‘continue to monitor the situation as a precaution’.

Leigh Day's head of clinical negligence, Suzanne White said:

“We can see that artificial intelligence used within healthcare can cause real patient safety issues when it goes wrong.

"It is also concerning that it appears to have taken six months for the Royal Free Hospital to realise that these letters had not been sent out.  The Trust must now carry out a rapid and thorough investigation into whether patient safety has been compromised by this error.”

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