Ailing servers cause pain for hospital

KUALA LUMPUR: For the past few days, managing care at Hospital Sungai Buloh has been a “pain” as a system breakdown forced it to reschedule patients’ appointments and trace investigation results by hand, among other setbacks.

One source said the main server had been out of order for some time and the entire hospital was running on backup servers. The information technology department that runs the server had been walking on a thin line.

“Since late Friday, the computer servers had been out of order, resulting in difficulty in accessing patients’ notes, investigation results, X-rays, MRIs and CT scans; thus making treatment and management of the sick very difficult,” he said.

A patient at an orthopaedic clinic, for instance, was told to reschedule his appointment but the patient explained that he had travelled a long distance and insisted on seeing a doctor.

Although hospital employees accommodated him, they were unable to gain access to his previous medical history and investigations, he said.

He also said that announcements were being made through the hospital PA system, apologising for the shortcomings and requesting patients to seek care elsewhere.

Some patients have gone to other health facilities.

“The hospital is without access to data and the doctors are at a loss as to what’s going to happen next,” he said.

He said the current system was bogged down by limited storage as it was running on an old Windows XP operating system which no longer had support ( and the Health Information System actually needed a revamp.

Microsoft on its site said that the support for Windows XP ended on April 8, 2014.

“Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for the Windows XP operating system. It is critical to migrate now to a modern operating system. The best way to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 10 is to buy a new device,” it said.

He said it had been a struggle for the hospital and that there had been frequent breakdowns in the server but not as long as this.

Appointments were changed to later dates, investigation results had to be tracked manually either by calling the laboratories rather than through the computer information system, he said, adding that access to old notes or treatment plans was completely unavailable.

A visit to the hospital yesterday saw signs being put up at strategic places, such as the registration counters, to alert patients about the system breakdown and urging for their patience.

“I was told about the system failure during my registration but I understand the situation.

“Usually, when an appointment is made, I can easily walk in quite quickly but today I had to wait for 50 minutes,” said Hariff, an outpatient met at the specialists’ unit.

A woman, while leaving the pharmacy, said: “The receptionist informed us about the system breakdown. It took me 30 minutes to get my medicine, which I think is fair.

“The downside was that the staff members are unable to trace back our medical history.”

A hospital receptionist said the registration needed to be done manually due to breakdown and could not update patients data yet.

“Patients need to register by filling up forms given here and later, we will have to key in the information into the system,” he said.

Hospital Sungai Buloh director Dr Kuldip Kaur said the hospital’s Total Hospital Information System was experiencing delay due to “technical issues”, without elaborating the issues.

“Currently we have limitation in terms of the number of users who can gain access to the system actively and our performance is affected,” she said.

She said that treatment for patients continued but the doctors were facing challenges in recording patients’ data, which had to be done manually.

Certain patient information could still be accessed such as patient diagnosis, medication list, X-ray results, appointment list and laboratory result, she said.

“We have a business continuity plan in place to ensure hospital operation is not affected totally,” she said.

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