GPs call for end to risky hospital faxes

AMA Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone said the use of antiquated fax machines meant patient information was insecure and caused doctors to miss key information about their patients. 

The problem was highlighted by an item in Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper on Wednesday, showing a fax sent by a hospital to a Melbourne GP that wrongly advised a patient had died.

“Sometimes, we don’t know a patient has been admitted, or discharged, or we don’t know of a crucial decision that has been made in terms of their ongoing management,” Dr Bartone told MO.

Ultimately, this affected the quality of care and patient outcomes and readmission rates, he said, giving the example of duplication and complication of medication management. 

“All these things can have serious consequences,” Dr Bartone said.

“As a rule, communication is usually around faxes, handwritten faxes,