St. Louis Health System Faces 20-Hour Computer Outage

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From Tuesday, July 28 to Wednesday, July 29, BJC HealthCare, the largest healthcare provider in the St. Louis, MO area, endured a computer outage lasting about 20 hours, temporarily disrupting operations throughout its systems.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the computer outage began at about 3 p.m. Tuesday and continued through 11 a.m. Wednesday, bringing operations to a halt at 13 hospitals across the area.

Rich Liekweg, the hospital system’s executive vice president said the outage blocked access to several key functions and services, including electronic medical records, email, appointment scheduling and registration. The bed tracking system responsible for transferring patients from the emergency room to a hospital bed also went down.

“Any time you have a system go down for any extended period of time it’s a concerning event,” Liekwig said. “But that’s also why we have contingency plans.”

For the first time in years, as a result, the health system recorded patient appointments and registrations with pen and paper.

At press time, BJC HealthCare has not yet determined the cause of the outage. The company has plans to switch to a new clinical software program by 2017 that will offer more advanced computer services, but hasn’t yet begun the switch, Liekweg said.

During the outage, no patient or employee information was compromised. Liekweg said he doesn’t think the outage was caused by a hack.

“We didn’t see anything in our routine tracking that indicates that data has left our firewall,” Liekweg said.

BJC HealthCare will continue to work alongside vendors to fix its information technology issues, the Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

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