An academic medical center’s response to widespread computer failure


  • Nicholas Genes, MD, PhD
  • Michael Chary, PhD
  • Kevin W. Chason, DO



electronic health record, computer security, medical informatics, disaster planning, hospital administration


As hospitals incorporate information technology (IT), their operations become increasingly vulnerable to technological breakdowns and attacks. Proper emergency management and business continuity planning require an approach to identify, mitigate, and work through IT downtime. Hospitals can prepare for these disasters by reviewing case studies. This case study details the disruption of computer operations at Mount Sinai Medical Center (MSMC), an urban academic teaching hospital. The events, and MSMC’s response, are narrated and the impact on hospital operations is analyzed. MSMC’s disaster management strategy prevented computer failure from compromising patient care, although walkouts and time-to-disposition in the emergency department (ED) notably increased. This incident highlights the importance of disaster preparedness and mitigation. It also demonstrates the value of using operational data to evaluate hospital responses to disasters. Quantifying normal hospital functions, just as with a patient’s vital signs, may help quantitatively evaluate and improve disaster management and business continuity planning.

Author Biographies

Nicholas Genes, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.

Michael Chary, PhD

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.

Kevin W. Chason, DO

Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.


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How to Cite

Genes, MD, PhD, N., M. Chary, PhD, and K. W. Chason, DO. “An Academic Medical center’s Response to Widespread Computer Failure”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 8, no. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 145-50, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2013.0121.



Case Studies