Hospital computer system back online

Richard Bunton.
Richard Bunton.
The Southern District Health Board's computer system, which collapsed early yesterday morning, is operational again.

"Clinical systems are back to normal with minimal disruption," medical director of patient services Richard Bunton said this afternoon.

"We want to thank patients for their understanding and a huge thank you to all our staff who have worked around this."

There were fears the computer system's collapse could affect elective surgery and other procedures at Dunedin Hospital.

However, Mr Bunton said today elective surgery was not affected by the IT failure.

"Elective surgery was not postponed at all over the two days," he said.

The failure of IT equipment meant file information could not be accessed, but that did not directly impede medical procedures including operations, he said. 

The failure came after it was revealed last week that more than 3800 Southland Hospital mammograms were lost as a result of an IT failure.

Yesterday, Mr Bunton disputed a claim from Dunedin North MP and Labour associate health spokesman David Clark that the failure had put patient lives at risk and was a result of cost-cutting.

Dr Clark's claims were ''scare-mongering and scandalous'', he said.

''I am not minimising it. It is slowing things down, but it's not putting people at risk.''

Asked if the public could have confidence in the DHB's IT system given the latest failure and the earlier loss of mammograms, he said: ''I would think so.

"We do invest a lot in terms of having the appropriate equipment and it being upgraded. We believe it is [up to scratch], but I guess the public can't help but draw their own conclusions.''

IT workers ''right up to the top folk at IBM'' were working round the clock to get the system online.

Mr Bunton did not feel qualified to answer technical questions about why it might have failed. The server was ''rebooting'' and given its size this could take some time.

Dr Clark released a statement yesterday afternoon saying the collapse put patients' lives at risk and was symptomatic of cost-cutting across the health sector.

''Patient lives are at risk. Clinical leaders have been unable to access lab results, clinical notes, patient contact details, diaries and operating rosters, let alone communication tools like email.''

Health Minister Tony Ryall had placed ''so much pressure on DHBs that they are in survival mode''.

It's called back up

I mean really does the DHB not have any back up facilities?


The system is not fully up and running yet. Not only has it affected the patients but the staff as well, including the pay roll, people not getting correct menus etc.  

Not just a technical issue

Something went wrong with the hospital IT system.  Something worse was wrong with the hospital IT management.  If your business depends on a computer system, you have to have a disaster recovery plan that will get you going quickly after a major loss or failure.  This is management 101.  How many other DHBs have made the same management mistake?


Don't take it literally

As Mr Bunton pointed out, and which you failed to understand, he does feel qualified to answer technical questions.

I'm sure the reference to 'the server' was meant in a wider context than what you have given it. Let's wait and find out what the answer is before we start throwing stones.



Single server?

The server was ''rebooting'' and given its size this could take some time.

Surprising they do not have some redundancy here.  "The server" indicates they have all their eggs in one basket.  A more distributed system with failover capabilities would be preferred.  One also has to wonder what their disaster recovery plan is if they are relying on one server.  They should be able to lose a server without anyone noticing a single thing.  Yes, these servers are big and expensive, but an apparent single point of failure is careless.

Dunedin Hospital

Mr Bunton, Dr Clark's claims are not ''scare-mongering and scandalous'', they are informing us of the situation.

If the computer system has collapsed and immediate access to patient information is not there, of course it will affect patient care & "put patient lives at risk".

Not only have I spent my working life in the public health system, I have witnessed it's decline. That is what is scandalous. 


Patient lives at risk with and without computer

Lives are at risk if important clinical information cannot be accessed. Should there be a back up system to prevent this?

Mental Health patients don't even have their records computerised. In a modern society one would expect mental health records to be organised in such a way that it is interfaced succesfully with the other computerised health records. But it is not. The mental health system's handwritten records are hard to read and disorganised. This also puts patients' lives at risk.

Please sort it out SDHB. 


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