Outage delays reporting test results at Vermont’s largest hospital

Vermont News

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) — The state’s largest hospital apologized for the delay in reporting 50 positive cases to the Department of Health between November 22 and November 29. UVM Medical Center (UVMMC) says it was due to their IT outage and efforts to restore the system.

UVMMC says the individuals involved were notified of their results in a timely manner. However, their cases went unreported to the Department of Health, hindering contact tracing efforts. That is interviews, calls, and isolation guidance to close contacts.

Fortunately, this is now well underway.

“We are extremely sorry for this error and any impact this had on our patients and or our community,” said UVMMC’s Dr. Stephen Leffler, President and Chief Operating Officer.

Dr. Leffler says when their electronic medical records system got hacked in October, they began reporting cases by fax. 

“What happened was we had actually a very good system when the system was down, switching from fax back to another method,” said Dr. Leffler. “There was some confusion over how to do that, and it was responsible for it.”

The delay comes as the state sees the highest positive case count Thursday since the start of the pandemic: 178 cases (176 PCR-confirmed cases, two probable cases).  

“For Vermont this represents the largest number we have had…and a significant number,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

 Dr. Levine says it’s too early to know what’s contributing to the spike and whether it’s related to thanksgiving gatherings and travel. But he says cases are popping up across the state and we’ll know what these cases are linked to in the next few days.

“When the health department reaches out to contacts, we often hear that were already aware that were a contact to a case and have already taken steps to prevent the spread,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Patsy Kelso. “I’m hopeful that any effects of the delayed reporting will have been mitigated by the good work of Vermonters.”

Dr. Leffler says their electronic medical records, scheduling functions, and phone lines are back up. The hospital is continuing to fix its automatic communication systems, which appeared to be the issue.

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