Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twelve Hour Health IT "Glitch" at Allegheny General Hospital - But Patients Unaffected, Of Course...

At "Transplant Team at Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical Center Missed Hepatitis Result" I wrote about a kidney transplant gone bad at UPMC that may have been due to a computer "glitch."

Now Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh has suffered a "glitch" that shut down their entire health IT system for approximately 12 hours:

Allegheny General Hospital's records system back online

By Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Last updated: 10:26 pm

Allegheny General Hospital's electronic medical records system was online Wednesday afternoon after a morning shutdown caused by a glitch in a vendor's computer software, a spokesman [Dan Laurent] said.

... The hospital's system underwent a routine upgrade during the weekend, Laurent said. Staff shut down the system about 5 a.m. Wednesday after noticing it was running too slow. New Jersey-based software vendor Allscripts made repairs, and the system was online by 5 p.m., he said.

One might think the vendors of mission critical hospital systems would check their upgrades better before roll out to hospitals teeming with real, live, sick patients.

Of course, patient care was unaffected. It never is when a "glitch" occurs, despite the massive inconvenience to doctors who actually have patients to care for, and the need for backloading paper data - with inherent opportunity for error - after the computer system is resuscitated.

At a Jan. 2011 post "Orderless in Seattle: Software glitch shuts down Swedish Medical Center's medical-records system" I observed:

There's that word "glitch" again that I see so frequently in the health IT sector when a system suffers a major crash that could harm patients. Why do we not call it a "glitch" when a doctor amputates the wrong body part, or kills someone? ... the shutdown likely affected about 600 providers, 2,500 staffers and perhaps up to 2,000 patients, but no safety problems were reported.

As I've noted at this blog before, it is peculiar how such "glitches" never seem to produce safety problems, or even acknowledgments of increased risk.

Same in this Allegheny General Hospital case:

... [spokesman] Dan Laurent said staffers took drug and lab orders on paper forms, and that patient care was not affected by the shutdown.

If patient care is never affected by shutdowns even as long as an entire working day, one wonders why the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars spent on these systems is needed in the first place...

I have a solution.

Cloud computing!

-- SS


Anonymous said...

Does anyone believe their disclaimer designed to keep the lawyers at bay? Does anyone expect them to declare that medications and care was delayed by hours?

PATHETIC as is this:

From Dr. Poses of yesterday:


according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Christopher Olivia, ... at West Penn Allegheny Health System, received total compensation worth $1.91 million.
Also,...and Roy Santarella, executive vice president and chief administrative officer for the health system, received $1.25 million.

In summary, the CEO received nearly $2 million, and the executive vice president $1.25 million.

Hospital/ Executive Performance

Per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The region's No. 2 hospital network is losing money, but West Penn Allegheny Health System's board of directors gave its CEO a 40 percent bonus, according to tax documents released on Friday."

Live IT or live with IT said...

Well, it happened again, same hospital same week:

Glitches hamper updates to AGH's computer system
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Allegheny General Hospital's computerized record system was offline Saturday morning, in a repeat of problems hospital administrators dealt with early this week.

The system, which organizes and maintains patient information, medical records and medication orders, is operated by Chicago-based hospital contractor Allscripts.

"I wouldn't classify it as going smoothly," hospital spokesman Dan Laurent said. "But there's been no interruption of patient care."


InformaticsMD said...

Live IT or live with IT said...

Well, it happened again, same hospital same week:

"No 'interruption' (?) of patient care", though. You'd think hospitals could actually run on paper...

-- SS

Live it or live with IT said...

I loved this comment from the most recent missive regarding AGH's IT (do you think the hospital had anything to do with the story?):

"Despite ongoing financial challenges, West Penn Allegheny Health System is on track to meet federal deadlines for use of electronic health records, a priority for hospitals and doctors throughout the region."