VA, Defense Department EHR outage affects 95,000 clinicians

An April 6 EHR outage at three Veterans Affairs medical centers, 66 Defense Department sites and 109 Coast Guard sites affected more than 95,000 clinicians, Nextgov reported April 7.

The Cerner EHR systems being deployed by the VA, the DOD and Coast Guard went down for three hours, preventing more than 95,000 clinician users from accessing and updating patient medical data.

Terry Adirim, MD, executive director of the EHR Modernization Integration Office, said in an April 7 press call that the outage was caused by a bug in the Oracle databases and not due to ongoing deployment efforts. 

During the downtime, the VA hospital staff were able to continue with most clinical operations, though patient information had to be recorded on pen and paper and later updated in the EHR system, according to Dr. Adirim.

"Cerner remains steadfast in its support of our federal clients' efforts to provide timely, high-quality care through a single, common electronic health record," said Pat Sargent, general manager of Cerner Government Services. "We continue to work hand-in-hand with our federal partners to address any and all concerns and are committed to getting this right for Service members, Veterans and their families. Any downtime, however brief, is unacceptable and we work each day to ensure we are delivering the best possible solutions." 

The April 7 EHR outage is not the first incident. On March 2 the Spokane, Wash.-based Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center experienced a glitch related to its EHR system that took the system down for 21 hours. 

An investigation into what caused the glitch at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center is being conducted by Cerner and the VA. 

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