[Ed. – See the full article; hackers are actually attacking hospitals with ransomware, knowing that system-wide EHR outages put many patients in immediate mortal danger.]
In 2006, the EHR system at a major hospital crashed. One senior internist, reports the Washington Post, “walked in to find no records on any patients.” He said, “It was like being on the moon without oxygen.” While doctors struggled to keep patients alive, employees from the EHR vendor “ran around with no idea how to work their own equipment.” The internist emphasized, “I didn’t go through all my training to have my ability to take care of patients destroyed by devices that are an impediment to medical care.”
Yet, despite this danger to patients, in 2009 Congress mandated that all doctors and hospitals buy and use EHR systems by January 1, 2014, or face significant financial penalties. Thus, more than 80 percent of physician offices and 99 percent of hospitals use EHRs today.
As doctors and hospitals raced to meet the deadline, shutdowns escalated. In 2011, the EHR system of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center was shut down for more than 14 hours. The outage affected nearly all its hospitals in the region. Dr. Scot Silverstein told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “What occurred here was a disruptive, potentially dangerous major malfunction of a life-critical enterprise medical device.”