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Hospital turns away ambulances because EHR system goes down

By CurtMonash on Thu, 06/04/09 - 6:50am.

Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis turned away patients in ambulances for two hours Tuesday morning, according to an article in the Indianapolis Star. Why? Because a power surge blew out their computers, which house their electronic health records (EHRs), and after half a day or so the backlog on their paperwork was intolerable.

Something is weird about this story. Surely Methodist Hospital has industrial-strength surge protection for crucial patient-care electronics. So why wasn't the EHR system similarly protected? I gather it's not 100% mission-critical, since patient care went on for half a day without it -- but ultimately the manual back-up systems weren't quite enough.  The article does read as if the computer system may have been located offsite from the hospital itself, at some central location for parent outfit Clarian Health -- but that's not really an answer.

And by the way, if this was more about billing than patient care -- why were patients turned away at all?

The article says:

A power surge knocked out Clarian Health's computer system Monday
afternoon, derailing the hospitals' ability to access electronic health
records for patients ... Staff members
at Methodist and Indiana University Hospital had to enter patients'
records by hand.

By about 1 a.m. Tuesday, a backlog of paperwork led Methodist and IU
hospitals to stop accepting patients who arrived by ambulance. Walk-in
patients were still accepted. The diversion lasted until about 3 a.m. ...

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