The Night Nothing Happened

Tonight, in my ED, nothing happened.

Oh, there were plenty of patients, and there was plenty of work to do, but it was one of those nights when circumstances conspired to insure nothing got done, at least not like it should have.

The biggest culprit was the shut-down of the ‘computers’, a misnomer as all our computers continued to work but the network went down. This means that all the orders have to be done with paper requests, then later have to get entered into the network (when it’s a network again), thereby more than doubling the work needed to get every single test done, and adding to the delay(s) every single time. Oh, and the results don’t come in the normal way, either.

My biggest irritant was the xray system, converted to digital radiography for the convenience of the radiology department about 2 years ago. When the network collapses, they keep shooting xrays, but we cannot get to them normally, the backup procedures we have been assured would be there aren’t, so we have to stop the rad techs and have them find and pull up the films we need to see (all of them). For some reason, network problems don’t happen when the People In Ties, who are all smiles and assurances about ‘we’ve got it covered’ aren’t there when the backup scheme needs to work, and doesn’t.

And, since this has devolved into a generally unfocued rant, this is my biggest concern about an Electronic Medical Record (EMR), which is one of those things that will absolutely stop us dead when the system goes down. It’s bad enough when the orders don’t happen quickly and the xrays cannot be viewed; what happens when we can’t even start or finish a chart?

Anyway, a frustrating eve, which should have been over quickly due to the time change, but was made interminable Waiting on Things to Get Done.


  1. I have the same concern regarding the electronic medical record. I have owned a medical transcription business for over 15 years and am familiar with the issues surrounding electronic records. The thought of my life hanging in the balance while a computer server IT guy works on the network, scracthing his head –well it’s just plain not acceptable! Okay, use the network, but don’t give up the hard copies. We’re a long way away technologically speaking from giving up paper and human beings when it comes to quality health care. Thanks for bringing up this issue. Amanda

  2. I recently tried to complete my EMR for a patient I saw last month and tried to call up the paper records from his ED visit, which we still keep. But in his case, there were none…there was absolutely no record that he had ever been seen or cared for in our emergency department with the exception of his name on the schedule. Frightening. I even had our office clerks call medical records a SECOND time to get ALL his paper charts up, and still, no record whatsoever.

  3. We don’t have EMR, but, like everyone else, we do order labs, etc, through the computer network. What a nightmare when it goes down.

    When I was in med school we had to go down to the lab every morning and search through boxes on several large tables to find the morning’s labs for each of our patients. Imagine how happy we where when we were able to just look things up on a computer.

  4. autolycos says:

    That’s why (and I’m not sorry to say it) when the pointy-haired bosses say “we’re using windows as our EMR server” if your applying for a job, you should tell them that you aren’t interested in their job because you don’t want to work twice as hard when it is down.

    Real computers don’t have down time.