Friday, October 23, 2009

Academic Freedom Curtailed: Censorship Down Under On EHR's for the Emergency Department?

In a stunning development:

The essay on Emergency Department electronic health record (EHR) problems in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) by medical informatics professor Dr. Jon Patrick, Health Information Technologies Research Laboratory (HITRL), University of Sydney, that I referenced in my posts "The Story of the Deployment of an ED Clinical Information System ‐ Systemic Failure or Bad Luck" and "NSW Nightmare and Overuse of Computers" appears to have been censored. This apparently occurred at the level of the the government.

The essay was available as item 6 at . Attempts to download now provide a message "This document is not currently available." I do not know if the vendor was involved.

(A copy of vers. 3 of Professor Patrick's report is still available here in PDF; it was a work in progress when it was pulled.) [Oct. 24 - see addendum below - ed.]

This appears to be an overt example of suppression of academic freedom that I believe should receive widespread attention, most especially if there is retaliation of any kind against the professor.

I also believe censorship of a document such as this could escalate to a human rights issue regarding what appears to be deliberate censorship of critical information about IT systems that could possibly be putting large numbers of patients at risk. Imagine if this was a report about potentially defective nuclear reactor control systems or containment processes at biological hazards research sites.

I believe addressing the issues raised in the report would have been a far more responsible approach than censorship.

-- SS

Addendum 10/24: The author of the paper asked me to remove it from my server as well. It is currently unavailable. This situation is in flux and hopefully will be resolved soon. Hopefully, the issues in the report will be addressed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The paper has already been published in 1997! This is just reliving history in the same health system.

Lessons from a failed information systems initiative: issues for complex organisations☆
International Journal of Medical Informatics, Volume 55, Issue 1, Pages 33-46
G. Southon, C. Sauer, K. Dampney