back to article UK hospitals fall back on pen and paper after Oracle Cerner outage

Hospitals in the UK are recovering from an outage in their vital electronic health records system from Oracle Cerner which left doctors unable to access vital patient information. Yesterday afternoon, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust staff were told not to use the electronic patient record system due to a technical issue …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps they've finished slurping all our data and flogged it.

    (and that'll be Barnet Hosp in Chipping Barnet)

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      No, they checked the licenses and found significant discrepancies.

      So they ordered all systems to be powered down until they can collect additional money to pay for all the extra licenses nobody asked for and even fewer need.

  2. First Light Silver badge

    Medical mistakes

    could kill you in the old days. Now you have to worry about crappy software killing you as well.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge

      Re: Medical mistakes

      When I had a few teams in a London NHS trust, many years ago, I was being ranted at by a senior surgeon in ICU about introducing some new software.

      I pointed out to them that if they make a mistake they may kill their patient. If I make a mistake we may kill hundreds.

      They calmed down and we all got on fine after that.

    2. Bartholomew Bronze badge

      Re: Medical mistakes

      To be fair poor software design has killed a few (lookup Therac-25 - a computer-controlled radiation therapy machine produced by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited in 1982). So many lessons learned because it got so much wrong. The software was proven safe on the old machines (with hardware safety interlocks that hid all the software bugs), so it must safe in the newer cheaper model (without hardware safety interlocks).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone I know was sent to A&E in one of the central London hospitals last night only to be told that a "widespread computer failure" meant their injury could not be X-rayed - presumably because either the machine couldn't be used without a valid patient e-record or there was no way to look at the digital output. No fallback available.

  4. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Downtime Procedures

    Pen and paper may be used to record new medical data and billings (presumably, to be input into the computer later), but not to access patient data, which is locked-up in the for-whatever-reason malfunctioning computer system -- unless regular and frequent patient-record dumps-to-paper are being made (which they probably are not). Since previous patient medical data is usually is needed to make correct diagnoses and give correct medical care, it seems we're paying a potentially grievous price for "progress".

    It's like flying in an airliner: deaths per passenger-mile are low on average, but if you're in a crash, you're probably going to be maimed and/or killed. With attacks on computers rising as they are, the averages for computer-related medical errors are increasing uncomfortably.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Downtime Procedures

      On the other hand, you have the famous doctors' illegible scrawl... and the outsourcing of transcribing and inputting them to the new-fangled computers

      Either way you could be killed by a misprint

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: Downtime Procedures

        The systems I work on, all the data is typed in, the only scrawl is the doctor's signiture on a printout. And with electronic dispensing, not even that.

  5. bregister

    No one saw this coming, right?

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      The blood type on blood donation bags is still written in marker pen by hand. Because in a disaster situation the scanners might run out of battery and not be able to be recharged. Why despite modern auto blood pressure machines med students are still taught the old way with a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer. I have taught med students how to do that. Including the cheat for a noisy environment, like a large teaching lab.

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