EHRs and other clinical IT are touted as essential to improving safety, among many other benefits.

Yet when hospital systems crash, the common refrain by hospital executives to the press, when such stories are reported, is "...but quality of care was not compromised."  

In fact, I've made an indexing term for this refrain.  The following query link retrieves the posts so indexed, numbering almost 30 at present:

One hospital in California 40 minutes north of Sacramento had a crash and its CEO made exactly that claim.  However, a patient's husband disagreed, and called the CEO a liar.  Why?  His wife was affected by the crash in a very unsafe manner.

The Appeal-Democrat is a local news source for Sutter and Yuba counties, California, serving readers since 1860.  Emphases mine:

Letter: Re: Rideout Hospital computer problems 

Friday, February 27, 2015 

I am writing in regard to comments made by the CEO of Rideout Hospital regarding its recent computer crash. 

He said quality of care for patients had not been compromised during this incident. He is lying.

My spouse went to Rideout almost two weeks ago and had a Lexiscan of her heart when the computer system went down. The hospital doctor released her and assured her that if anything were wrong, the radiology department would spot it and she would inform us.

Here it is two weeks later and now they are saying because of the computer problem the entire test didn't get to her cardiologist until today. They think she may have had a minor heart attack and needs further cardiac intervention.

 Is this the new "open and improved" truths we are getting from this hospital? Rideout CEO Robert Chason misinformed us all. 

I am sure my spouse, who has fallen through the cracks during this inexcusable lapse in Rideout's technical policies, is not the only patient suffering similar situations. 

Shame on Chason for minimizing the effects of this catastrophe at our local hospital. 

Edward Ferreira 
Yuba City

Claims that hospital paralysis through health IT outages and malfunctions don't compromise patient care insult my intelligence.  Such claims insult the intelligence of patients and their families, too.  Outages and malfunctions nearly always compromise the quality and safety of care.
Patient safety is put at risk because hospitals are not making adequate efforts to keep these systems up 24x7. Many might say they can't afford it.  You don't put in life-critical information systems half-baked, however. Not in medicine, anyway.

Finally, the press, by accepting these Pinocchio-like statements from hospital administrations without severe challenge, only promote cavalier behavior of hospital executives.

Hospital executives:  EHRs are so absolutely essential to patient safety, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on them. When they crash, however, patient care is never compromised.
-- SS

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