Cooling system failure shuts down computers at Samaritan Medical Center for nearly 4 hours

Physicians and hospital staff at Watertown, N.Y.-based Samaritan Medical Center were unable to access computers for about four hours May 30 after a cooling system failure within its data center caused them to shut  down, according to statements posted on the hospital's Facebook page and reported by Watertown Daily News.

Patient records, medication administration records and other systems were inaccessible for a short time beginning in late afternoon May 30, according to an initial Facebook post and a subsequent follow-up post.

A hospital spokesperson told Watertown Daily News the issue began when the data center cooling system failed and set off an alarm. This automatically shut down servers to keep them from overheating. Samaritan immediately activated its Incident Command Center to retrieve as many resources as possible and remedy the situation.

The shutdown forced Samaritan to extend shifts for some physicians and nurses, call in others and request incoming ambulances be diverted to other facilities when possible.

Although the hospital did not have access to its EHR, its emergency room remained open. The voluntary ambulance diversion request was an effort to shorten wait times and expand services, which could have been affected by the system downtime.

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