Nurses concerned about patient safety after EHR breakdown

The recent failure of an EHR system at a California hospital has led to registered nurses requesting that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) to investigate the disruption that closed the organization's emergency department and created other problems that put patients at risk.

Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, Calif., experienced the electronic breakdown at the end of February. In a message to the LACDPH, Antelope Valley RN Maria Altamirano, on behalf of other RNs who are members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, said “our entire electronic and data system failed.”

Among the consequences were problems with dispensation of needed medications, no verification of doctors’ orders, no review of patient labs, no review of radiology exams, MRIs and other diagnostic procedures, and an inability of doctors and nurses to review patient records, according to a release issued by the California Nurses Association.

Altamirano said the hospital had no back-up plan once they had to close their ED. “How many hospitals are compromising the lives of their patients by not having a back up or plan of action in place for a catastrophic event as this?” she asked.