Yesterday at 11AM our EHR died. System wide. Hundreds of physicians and thousands of patients were affected. 

What made it so especially infuriating was the fact that I was powerless to change it. I had sixty items on my virtual desktop that still needed addressing but I could do nothing about it. They were untouchable.

If I had known, I would have brought some knitting.

Anger and frustration compounded and multiplied as the promise that it would be fixed in 15 minutes became thirty minutes became hours. We had to reschedule patients because it was not safe: I had no idea what meds they were taking. Allergies? What other medical issues did they have? What kind of lab results did we get on their last check? When was their last check? 

I wanted to hurt something. 


I had a screw driver handy. I could drive it through the keyboard and screen over and over again until it was smoking and sparking but then I remembered that it was not going to do anything to those at fault for the whole debacle. What I really wanted was the hand of the individual responsible on the desk before me so I could drive my screwdriver through it into the wood below. It would cause significant pain but no permanent disability, right?


So instead, I bought my staff pizza. I blogged. And I paced back and forth.

At 5 PM, the EHR was back up. Just in time…..

……for going home.

Then the conspiracy theorist in me started to wonder. Was this all because of a cyber attack? Did our system go down because of an attempt to steal sensitive information? Who knows. Healthcare is vulnerable. Want to kill someone? Change their meds. Change their lab results. Change their allergy list.

At any rate, my eye is still twitching and the jaw clenching is causing my TMJ to flare up. Too bad drinking on the job is frowned upon…..


118 thoughts on “Altered

  1. I don’t know if you would get in trouble for this, but there was a time when drs got most of that info by asking the patient. (Lab results were on the patient’s paper chart.) Of course it would take more time, but treating some is better than none, isn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Welcome to complex software!

    To me, one of the most frustrating things about this type of incident is that even if I have other things that I could be doing that don’t involve the broken system, I can’t do them. I can’t do anything until the broken system is working again.

    Another frustrating thing (to everyone involved) is that the operators of the system may never know exactly what caused the crash. The downtime is so expensive that we cannot afford to add to it by spending what might end up being many hours trying to figure out the cause. C’est la guerre.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ohhhh, how frustrating. Robustness has always been a challenge in complex systems. In your case such a failure is dangerous – normally it is just very annoying and costly. I had a company owner once at a Christmas party say to the crowd that he was going to hire out the VP of IT to the competition so he could drive them out of business since he couldn’t seem to keep the computer up and running. The following year the problem was cured.

    I doubt your problem was a cyber attack – it is hard to monetize medical info – I assume you do not record SIN numbers or credit card numbers. If you do, it may be an attack, for that info is very easily sold.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel your pain. I work for a law firm and not too long ago all our computers went down. I was amazed at how little work I could do without that darn computer.

    PS: Remind me to never, ever tick you off. I like my hands just the way they are.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So if someone was your patient and didn’t want something like his history of seizures on his chart (so he can get a driver’s license), he could tell you that he never had that problem and blame it on some computer mistake? Would that convince you to take it off the chart?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That is why I do not like computer records systems so much. There was a film about this where someone figured out a back door hack and did change a guys records and the staff at the hospital believed the computer and not his girlfriend. They gave him insulin IV and killed him because the computer said he was diabetic and gave false lab values.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Was that yesterday? because over here (that I know of) two supermarkets and a gas station also lost their computer systems. WEIRD. (Other than having to walk home with no groceries.) You are very vulnerable in your profession. I know everyone hates paper records but I think I would rather be in charge of my own chart, I could just bring it with me to the visit, you could make notes in it with your special doctors pen then I take it home again to my filing cabinet. I would be in charge of my own health. Yes, I know this is impossible. But I like the idea.. c

    Liked by 4 people

      • You do? Great. I would go to a doctor who let me keep my own chart. Maybe. I have a few old people I feed out here (everyone needs an old person) and I am shocked by the number of different doctors, for different conditions, they have to see, (and the miles we have to drive) during the course of a year and how many medications each different doctor prescribes for them.. (so i can see how a universal computerised system would be essential then you can see who else they have seen and what else is going on) but often these people do not know why they are taking a certain drug OR its side effects. They have forgotton. I make handwritten wall charts for them, and every time they go for any medical intervention they take my handwritten chart with notes and questions so they don’t forget what is going on and the doctor can quickly see a total history, at least for that year anyway and we can update the chart straight away. (Sorry for the long comment) .. c

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s rough and scary if all computers everywhere totally went down for good. Gah. All I could think is that if you drove the screw driver into the hand of the culprit at least he’d have a Dr. to take care of the wound after. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I can sense your frustration!
    Brainstorm: You should take knitting supplies for JUST when the thingy goes down. Then, years from now, you can be like, “I knitted this blanket/pile of sweaters for the homeless exclusively while the EHR failed me!”
    I just like tangible demonstrations of time. Like all those quilts I made during my husband’s deployments.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ugh … sometimes paper looks quite appealing, doesn’t it? Very scary stuff … and I can appreciate the frustration.

    Your posts here make a difference … quite eye-opening … and it makes me appreciate my family doctor so much more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh no! This makes me want to redouble my troubleshooting efforts when the systems I’m responsible for, go down.

    Honestly I bet the tech team were trying their best – such critical failures are our nightmare due to the business implications involved.

    I’m sorry you had to waste a day and a lot of patients’ time!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: My Article Read (10-20-2015) | My Daily Musing

  13. Grrrr. I have a real hate-hate relationship with EMR. If one more person tells me “there is not an order for that.” I may scream. I just spent 20 minutes figuring out how to put that order in. Oh? Not the right one? Then- you put it in. I’m done.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. You’re in Texas, aren’t you? Because I read that Gov. Abbott now wants medical records of Medicaid recipients. You know, in case they used them to get contraceptives or abortion services… so maybe your conspiracy theory isn’t so far off the mark after all! (I think that he only demanded them of Planned Parenthood, though, so you’re probably safe. For now …)

    Liked by 1 person

    • My records were once subpoenaed for a divorce/custody case. I was required to read them out loud to the court. Nothing you say is 100% confidential, even to your physician. That was eye opening for me.


  15. Breathe normally. Do not hit anybody on your staff. Nor the computer people.
    Turn to the painting you chose as illustration. Probably a 16th century french church.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. BTB. I like your blog name “Victo dolore”. In the end it is the best a doctor can do.
    We all die in the end don’t we?
    But pain? That’s tough.
    Have a good day tomorrow.
    (Always take it one step at a time)

    Liked by 1 person

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