Server failure forces hospital off of EHR for 10 days

Executives at Boulder (Colo.) Community Hospital are probably breathing easier now that the facility's electronic health record system is up and running after a malfunction kept it offline for more than a week.

The outage, which took place on March 12, was the result of a malfunction in one of the hospital's main computer servers, and impacted both its primary server and its offsite backup system, according to a hospital statement. The outage rendered patient data inaccessible, and affected the hospital, its Foothills campus, eight laboratories and six imaging centers.

During the outage, the hospital reverted to using paper systems and charts. It continued to treat patients and provide diagnostic services, although delays in scheduling and reporting results occurred. Boulder's MEDITECH EHR system was fully restored March 22.

The hospital has since replaced the hard drives for the failed server, inspected the remaining servers, and hired a consulting firm to investigate the incident. It also has increased its data backups from every six hours to every four hours, and soon plans to conduct them every hour.

The hospital only lost patient data during an 8-hour hour period on March 12. That data had to be recreated, reentered into the EHR and validated. The paper records generated during the outage also will be entered into the EHR.

EHRs can be rendered useless by a number of events, including a natural disaster, cybercrime, or a simple computer glitch, requiring users to have back up plans and alternative means to ensure that patient care and safety isn't compromised.

To learn more:
- here's the hospital's statement
- read The Daily Camera article