Computer System Outage

Boulder Community Hospital has resumed normal operation of the computer system it uses for collecting clinical information.

The computer system was put back into full service using a phased approach that started at noon on March 21, 2013, with the hospital’s Emergency Department, Urgent Care Center and other outpatient areas. All hospital patient care areas, including nursing units, resumed normal use of the system at 3 pm on March 22.

Our investigation indicates the problem was a malfunction in one of our main computer servers which resulted in the system not being able to access patient information on that server. This malfunction affected both our primary server and the back-up server maintained at an off-site facility.

At that time, the hospital performed a full back-up of our data nightly, plus periodic backups every six hours.  By using these backups, we were able to recover our patient data, except for an eight-hour period on March 12, the day the outage occurred.  We had to recreate, re-enter and validate the patient information for that eight-hour period before we were able to resume using our system for normal operations.  

We have taken these actions to correct this situation --

  • We replaced the hard drives for the server that failed.
  • We inspected all of the remaining servers to ensure they were not compromised in any way.
  • We are now doing data backups every four hours. We plan to start doing hourly backups by March 29.
  • We hired a consulting firm with expertise in the clinical information computer system used at BCH to independently investigate this incident and confirm our internal analysis. We anticipate receiving their final report by April 5.

While our computer system was off line, the hospital switched to manual paper record-keeping systems and traditional paper charts for our patients. These systems allowed us to continue treating patients and providing diagnostic services. The patient information collected through those manual systems will be entered into each patient’s Electronic Health Record.

We want to thank our physicians, nurses and other employees for their commendable efforts in maintaining quality care during our "downtime" situation.

During our downtime, it took us longer than normal to schedule non-critical diagnostic tests such as screening mammograms. We also had some delays in distributing the results for routine diagnostic tests ordered by physicians in our community for their patients. We apologize for those delays.

The results of all critical and emergency tests were relayed immediately to physicians by telephone, which has always been our standard procedure.

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