For Want of a Surge Protector…

It seems somewhere between highly unlikely and impossible for this to happen in this day and age, but Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis had to turn away patients when a power surge took down its electronic medical records system. Yes, that’s right — our computers are down, and we can’t keep up with the paperwork backlog in order to admit new patients.

If the future of healthcare is electronic, someone in the IT department needs to ensure the computers providing these services are protected from simple things like electric surges. I think it’s called a “surge protector” and Wal-Mart sells them for $10.

Now sure, this was an isolated incident and the hospital was back up and running a few hours later. But still, it makes one wonder… If we can’t get something as simple as this right, how much luck are we going to have with the future of healthcare in the hands of people who can’t see the forest through the trees. Because no matter how unwieldy paper records are, they are there, even in the worst emergencies possible.


Posted in: general | hc's problem list | medical records





3 Responses to “For Want of a Surge Protector…”

  1. Chris says:

    Given Methodist’s dismal safety record (see examples below), I think this is more of an issue of incompetent management than an issue of the impact of using electronic records.

    Example 1:

    Example 2:

  2. ePatientDave says:

    For want of a surge protector, hospital stops admitting pts (we’re not making this up): (@DocJohnG on

  3. Nick Name says:

    Those $10 things aren’t good for much more than protecting an alarm clock. And they only protect surges, not brown outs which are equally damaging and far more common. You need a UPS for that.

    However, there are other versions of protectors that do work, it’s just that they’re more expensive. But how much more expensive? They’re about $100 (give or take). Still cheap at twice the price considering what happens without them.

    You’ll probably find that management wouldn’t approve the expense.

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