Electrical fires shut down EHR, internet, phones at Washington hospital

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Fremont, Calif.-based Washington Hospital Healthcare System hired an outside company to investigate two electrical fires at its facilities that disrupted access to its internal systems last week, The Mercury News reported Aug. 4. 

The first fire started around 2:15 a.m. July 28 in one of three "uninterruptible power supply" units for Washington Hospital's data center, according to the report. While the fires disrupted regular operations and caused EHR downtime, no one was endangered and patient care continued while hospital staff shifted to downtime protocols. 

As a safety precaution, all three power supply units were turned off, which cut off servers that support the hospital's email, internet, phone and EHR systems. The different systems were down for "varying periods of time" but were all restored by 7:30 p.m. July 28, about 15 hours later, according to the report. 

On July 30 around 5:20 a.m., employees smelled smoke in the same area as the first fire but in a different power supply unit. Staff put out the fire, but the hospital still lost access to its EHR and "a limited number of other systems" until about 9:40 a.m. when they all were restored, a hospital spokesperson told the publication. 

"At this time, Washington Hospital has placed its data center on an alternative power source and there have been no further incidents," the spokesperson said. "Due to the resourcefulness of the staff of Washington Hospital and the thorough emergency preparedness protocols in place, patient care was minimally impacted during these incidents."


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