'There were some records that were not accessible for a period of time'
A Northern California hospital has acknowledged that its electronic health record system went dark for about a week, which resulted in clinicians unable to access patient medical records and even having to postpone serious medical treatments.
Robert Chason, chief executive officer of Rideout Health in Marysville, Calif., admitted the health system's electronic health record went down in mid February after a HVAC unit burned out, according to a local news report.
The two-hospital health system recently implemented the McKesson Paragon platform, but Chason emphasized that the EHR system was not at fault. Rather, HVAC units contained in an off-site data center were to blame after one burned out, and the other overheated soon after. Rideout Health officials did not respond to Healthcare IT News' inquiries for further details on the incident.
[See also: Setback for Sutter after $1B EHR crashes.]
Despite Chason assuring reporters patient medical care was not affected by the outage, he did acknowledge it resulted in many patients having to postpone their radiation treatments. What's more, clinicians had no electronic access to portions of their patients' records. "We talked about whether to transport and transfer patients for a long period of time," Chason was quoted in the Appeal Democrat. "There were some records that were not accessible for a period of time, but we tried to get them as quickly as we knew about them."
Chason's comments elicited frustration from one individual in particular, the spouse of a hospital patient, who wrote a strongly-worded opinion piece, criticizing Chason for "minimizing the effects" of the EHR outage.
Edward Ferreira's partner had a nuclear heart stress test at the health system when the computer outage occurred, and as a result the test didn't get to her cardiologist until two weeks later. After examining the test results, Ferreira said clinicians determined she potentially suffered a minor heart attack and would require additional cardiac intervention efforts.
"I am sure my spouse, who has fallen through the cracks during this inexcusable lapse in Rideout's technical policies, is not the only patient suffering similar situations," he wrote.
This EHR outage is far from an isolated incident. Just in August 2013, the 24-hospital Sutter Health system in Northern California reported that its $1 billion Epic electronic health record crashed due to a software glitch in the system that manages user access to the EHR. The outage lasted an entire day, with nurses saying they were unable to access medication orders and patient allergies, among other things.
[See also: Network glitch brings down Epic EMR.]
"All information such as medication administration records and patient histories was outdated by two to three days," Mike Hill, Alta Bates Summit RN, told Healthcare IT News. "There were no orders that could be seen of any kind through the day so nurses called for what they needed."
The incident had the nation's largest registered nurses union criticizing Sutter Health for failing to provide adequate support during the outage.
Then there was the IT network failure at the three-hospital Martin Health System in Florida, which in January 2014 reported its $80 million Epic EHR also went dark, an outage that lasted nearly two days. Clinicians at the hospital had to resort to manual charting and documentation.