AT COVID-19 WHS - Paper vs VACiS

Posted on
April 22, 2020

Your Executive recently met to discuss the WHS ban on the use of VACiS.

Our ban remains in place as the identified problems haven’t been rectified and now more than ever we have major concerns about the system’s limitations as it doesn’t allow for handover of clinical information when patients are transferred from one crew to another.

Rendezvous are occurring frequently between the North West and Northern crews and ramping continues to be a problem plaguing our health system particularly at the LGH.
In the interest of safety for those members needing to handle paper case reports or other paper-based forms such as the NEPTS interfacility paperwork, we provide the following advice:

  • For patients who present with COVID-19 symptoms or meet the criteria for the use of PPE we recommend to either complete your patient care report after     arrival at hospital (not in the vehicle) or a photocopy of the PCR and any relevant papers if collecting paperwork/patient and dispose of the originals in clinical waste bins. Use proper hand hygiene protocols and/or gloves when making copies.
  • There are serious concerns about VACiS records when ramping or rendezvous are involved with patient care given that you can’t predict if these will occur for a given case, so our advice is to only complete paper copies of patient records - start a new patient record form if you’re concerned about cross contamination
  • There is high clinical risk when patient handovers occur. Transferring all the pertinent drug information is problematic if some is recorded on VACiS or the new AT Observation Chart, or a hospital chart or on another paper-based form. Our assessment is that using one form is a better control for this obvious hazard, so keeping as much information on a single document is best practice.
  • It’s never ok to file paperwork that you know is, or could be, contaminated.

Normal protocols apply regarding patient care records. These are the approved service alternate methods of keeping/tracking patient records, are part of the ATSEP procedure (soon to be ATEP), and paper records are done in times of network and hardware failure.

Toughbooks are in limited supply and some are in disrepair requiring crew to crew handover of units. They are a potential contamination/transmission surface as they may be exposed to hot zones and there are multiple ‘droplet hiding places on this equipment’, and it’s not just the tops of the keys and flat surfaces that may be contaminated.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Chris Kennedy via HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email or complete our online contact form