Sutter Health back online after 24 hours of systemwide EHR outage

The activation of a fire suppression system of one of the health system’s data centers on Monday shut down its Epic EHR and other information systems.
By Jessica Davis
01:21 PM
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Sutter Health faced more than a day of downtime of its Epic EHR and an outage of internal communications this week after the activation of a fire suppression system in one of its data centers, officials said.

All systems currently are back online.

The outage began late Monday night and impacted all 24 hospitals in the California-based health system, according to an internal memo obtained by the Press Democrat. The outage affected certain information systems, the service desk and some of its phone systems.

“Our top priority is patient care and safety,” according to the notice. “Services are open, although some services may need to be delayed or rescheduled. Patients are asked to arrive at their appointments as scheduled unless they have been contacted with specific instructions otherwise.”

“All Sutter Health data remains secure,” the notice continued. “Standardized downtime procedures have been activated and are designed to support high-quality, safe patient care.”

Sutter Health’s emergency management system was activated as a result of the outage, which is programmed to be triggered in the event of a catastrophe. The idea is to allow staff to maintain patient care during an emergency.

The provider began operating under standard downtime procedures early Tuesday morning while it worked to restore its systems, officials said. Some sites were forced back to pencil and paper to record patient information while the computer systems were down.

Those records will be entered into the computers once the system is back online, a spokesperson told the news outlet.

The outage continued through Tuesday night, and officials kept all services open throughout the outage. While some sites were able to maintain all surgeries during the outage, other Sutter facilities were forced to cancel some procedures and reschedule.

While the outage slightly interrupted patient care, Sutter’s emergency planning likely curtailed what could have been a serious event. Allscripts customers faced up to a week without their EHRs after the EHR vendor was hit by a ransomware attack in January.

And just last year, the U.K. National Health Service was crippled after WannaCry infected 47 of its trusts. Proper emergency planning can allow hospitals to maintain patient care in the event of a network outage.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com