At "Indiana Power Surge" I wrote about the dangers of EHR "glitches" that do, but should not, cause catastrophic failure of clinical IT systems that clinicians are increasingly dependent upon to deliver healthcare.
At "Another Episode in the Series: HIT Failure" I wrote about yet another hospital whose clinical IT suffered a "glitch" that caused the hospital to struggle for a week with computer failures.
Here we go again, this seems almost daily now. Wait until hospitals and offices really try to push the envelope to get onboard the ARRA EHR gravy train by 2014:
Strong winds damage Indian Hospital systemsOf course, there is the traditional disclaimer about how such outages NEVER, EVER jeopardize patient safety (see "Health IT Failure Never Puts Patients at Risk"):
Posted: June 8, 2009 05:48 PM
LAWTON Okla. - The Lawton Indian Hospital is trying to recover from damaging winds that came with a severe storm Sunday night, leaving the hospital without air-conditioning and severely crippled in their computer systems.
The storm damaged a coil to a $200,000 cooler that provides air conditioning for the hospital. The power went off for a short time around 8:30.
The power outage affected all their medical records, charts, everything that held patients' information. The only way to overcome the glitch was to resort to an old filing system. A system that used colors to match up what kind of care a patient needed.
And with 55,000 files to pour through, the hospital has severely slowed down. Rows and rows of thousands of files. Each one containing a patient's history.
Despite this setback hospital officials remain optimistic.
"The staff knows a lot of the folks, they know what's going on with them," said hospital Chief Executive Officer Hickory Starr.
I can attest to memory not being an optimal way to practice medicine ...
The outage has repercussions beyond inpatients:
Even if the hospital could call all of the existing patients to let them know the hospital's system is down, he says that would not solve everything.
"We have a lot of folks that show up here. Some that have appointments and a lot that do not."
Then there are those who need refills on their prescriptions.
"And we can not do refills because we can not pull up that electronic chart."
Finally, the prevailing attitude that safety is an Act of Providence (in reality, safety is not an accident):
Despite it all, most people remain pretty cheery.
"Generally they are. There is always some frustration but this is one of those situations that just happens."
One of those situations that "just happens" is days of EHR failure due to a power outage?
It'll all be fixed soon:
Hospital officials expect the computer systems back online late Monday or early Tuesday morning.
I repeat my oft-stated observation that IT culture will need to be reformed before IT will be able to "reform medicine."