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Monday, 18 November, 2002, 10:37 GMT
Software 'picks up medical errors'
The palmtop can help identify mistakes
The doctor who blew the whistle on the Bristol heart scandal has developed a computer programme which he says can detect medical errors.

Dr Steve Bolsin's palmtop software helps to identify mistakes made by trainee anaesthetists.

It has already been adopted in some hospitals in Australia, where the former Bristol anaesthetist now lives.

Dr Steve Bolsin
Dr Bolsin blew the whistle on the Bristol scandal
Dr Bolsin believes the computer programme could help to identify potential problems early and prevent a repeat of the Bristol scandal.

The software allows trainee doctors to record each medical procedure they carry out.

That information is linked with a central database which analyses trainees' performance.

Dr Bolsin said: "We have identified areas where trainees have safely undertaken procedures and therefore can go out and do them on their own.

"We've also identified procedures where trainees have needed further practice under supervision - had we let them go on further without supervision, then I think they may have endangered patients' lives."

A recent study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, picked up at least 50 errors in more than 1,600 procedures at one hospital over a seven-month period.

Culture of secrecy

Those results have prompted the some of teaching hospitals in Australia to adopt the system.

The Medical Defence Association in the state of Victoria, which indemnifies doctors, is buying the system for its members in an effort to help them reduce the number of clinical negligence claims.

Dr Bolsin has already given details of his software programme to doctors at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

It was the first time he had stepped inside the trust since leaving the UK six years ago.

Dr Bolsin claimed he was forced to leave because of victimisation from the medical profession after speaking out.

His whistle-blowing contributed to the longest and most far reaching government inquiry into medicine in British history.

It examined the culture of secrecy over results which led to the deaths of up to 35 babies during heart surgery.

Full coverage of the Bristol heart babies inquiry report

Government response

Key stories

Key figures

Parents' stories

Background briefing

Analysis

Bristol year by year
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