Alberta-wide ‘network outage’ leads to postponing non-urgent surgeries and lab work

A provincewide network outage caused non-urgent, elective surgeries and some lab work to be postponed at Alberta Health Services facilities Monday.

The network problems began to resolve at around 2 pm, according to AHS.

“The technical issue causing the provincial AHS network outage has been resolved and teams are working quickly to restore all clinical systems, which will take a few hours,” AHS said in a tweet.

Service was first restored in critical patient care areas, such as emergency departments.

AHS said it is reviewing the cause of the outage so it can work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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On Monday morning, some elective, non-urgent surgeries were postponed “as a precaution.” AHS said affected patients would be contacted to rebook their procedures.

Lab services were also impacted and reduced at some sites, with urgent results being communicated by fax or telephone instead of over AHS’ internal communications system.

AHS said routine laboratory appointments must be rescheduled, as hospitals moved to focus on only critical and stat laboratory requests.

Until the early afternoon, 811 Health Link was only available “in a limited capacity” with longer wait times. The service was functioning normally by 1:30 pm

Emergency Medical Services dispatch is functioning with back-up procedures and calls to 911 were not affected, AHS said. Those with an emergency were asked to call 911.

“Our teams are currently using downtime procedures, which are immediately put in place if an electronic system isn’t available,” AHS said in a statement. “This ensures we can continue to provide patient care.”

According to AHS, “all clinical systems and Connect Care applications (were) down.”

“We’ve been tracking (the outage) for a couple of hours now,” Dr. John Cowell, AHS’ official administrator, said at an unrelated news conference Monday morning.

“The clinical support — Connect Care and NetCare — is down and of course, everybody knows that’s not a good thing.”

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Cowell said there was no higher priority than getting clinical systems back up and running.

“We are working to restore the service and will provide updates as soon as possible,” said AHS.

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