1500 specialist letters, meant for referring GPs, found in suburban bin
Hundreds of specialist follow-up letters have been found dumped in the bin of a Sydney apartment block, months after they were supposed to have been delivered to referring GPs.
Disclosing the bungle on Friday, NSW Health said the letters related to the care of some 1500 patients from three public and six private clinics, mainly for attendances in December.
The letters, which included cancer progress reports, have been re-sent to treating doctors, and NSW Health does not believe patients have missed out on urgent care.
"No evidence of a need for immediate clinical intervention or for individual patients to be contacted was found," the department said.
The disclosure comes 10 days after a member of the public stumbled across the junked trove in the inner-west suburb of Ashfield.
The letters were supposed to have been delivered to GPs by Global Transcription Services (GTS), a Sydney-based firm that uses typists to transcribe doctors' dictaphone notes.
NSW Health is yet to confirm when the letters should have been delivered to GPs.
But GTS has attributed the incident to a subcontractor who filled in while a manager was on leave in January, implying the letters should have been received months ago.
The subcontractor in question has since been found to have experienced health issues.
NSW Health has ordered the company to cease printing and posting letters pertaining to public hospital patients.
Meanwhile, NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard has ordered a review of how public hospitals use external transcription services.
The state’s acting Privacy Commissioner has also been informed.
The letters related to patients from:
- Royal North Shore Outpatient clinics
- Dubbo Hospital Cancer Centre
- Gosford Hospital Outpatients and Cancer Centre
- The Northern Cancer Institute
- Chris O’Brien Lifehouse
- Sharp Neurology
- Southside Cancer Care Centre
- The Woolcock Institute
- Strathfield Retina Clinic
14 April (Good Friday)