Banner Health's Tucson Cerner switch triggers reports of medical errors, state finds

Phoenix-based Banner Health's $45 million switch from Epic to Cerner at its Tucson, Ariz.-based hospitals and clinics resulted in "numerous" reports of medical errors, state records obtained by the Arizona Daily Star show.

In February, the Arizona Department of Health and Services began investigating patient complaints following Banner's Oct. 1 Cerner EHR go-live at its Tucson facilities. After the go-live, patients reported experiencing delays to get appointments and prescriptions, along with scheduling issues. Some patients on Jan. 8 said their existing appointments at the health system's University of Arizona Cancer Center were rescheduled.

State health department records released to the Star after a public records request claim the go-live adversely affected patients and caused high frustration among some staff, according to the report.

An Oct. 19, 2017 complaint from the heavily redacted records states, "The biggest issue is patient safety and harm to patients," and "many of the staff are in tears and frustrated because of the lack of support and empathy to the consequences of patient care."

Hospital leaders said no patients were harmed from the issues, but acknowledged some delays in patient registration and ordering of lab results and medications, the records show.

"Hospital leadership denied there were any incidents that resulted in a negative outcome to patients, however, the hospital's occurrence log for October 2017 showed numerous incidents of medical errors reported to be a result of the conversion," state investigators wrote.

The state health department did not fine or cite Banner, and records show the health system took "sufficient corrective action" in response to the allegations surrounding its Cerner conversion. While Banner officials declined an interview with the Star regarding the issue, the system said in separate emails that more than 100 improvements have been implemented this year.

"These changes include dramatic improvements in medications processing and pharmacy; improved administrative operations in our oncology department; and rapid and enhanced access to patient records for our clinical staff; to name a few," one emailed statement to the Star reads. "Along the way, we did experience challenges, some of which were significant. However, we are proud of the progress we have made, will continue to refine our systems and technology, and are more committed than ever to making sure the Banner experience is world class."

More articles on EHRs:
Epic halts 15-year HQ expansion as construction catches up to growing workforce
Epic workers continue fight for overtime wages after Supreme Court decision
Epic in the news: 13 recent stories about Epic's affect on and in its community

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