Friday, 23 September 2011

Swedish Computer System Crash; 50 000 lost medical records

A computer system crash in Region Skåne, Sweden have resulted in the loss of appointment and prescription records, but may have resulted in the loss of over 50 000 medical records.

The affected hard drives have been shipped to a Norwegian company to attempt to recover the information lost in the crash that occurred on August 22, 2011.  (Almost a month ago as of the publication of this post.)

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, and the extent of the data loss is still unknown.
”We have never before lost so much information,” Mette Marklund, director of the National Board of Health and Welfare’s Southern Region, told DN. ”It can be a great risk to patient safety when we do not have access to adequate information. But, we do not know yet what to rebuild.”

Interestingly enough, Region Skåne is scheduled to launch a central medical record system for the entire nation in 2012.

Ed. Note:  I'm not certain how a health organization in a first world country could have started a project so large and so far reaching and not have given any thought to data backup or disaster recovery, especially when you consider the risk to human life that the loss of medical records might entail.




  1. Yes, no backups and they were going to manage the country? Hopefully wasn't by anyone we know. Does make you wonder what they were thinking.

  2. I must admit that I'm baffled over the lack of backup, but the system in question is a very old one, scheduled for replacement a long time ago - but the replacement has been delayed for a few years because of some legal problems.

    In Sweden, county councils are responsible for all health care within the borders of the county. Region Skåne is one of 21 county councils in Sweden, and they are NOT launching a centralised system for Sweden, it's "centralised" for the county of Skåne (with 1.2 million inhabitants). Less than 10 % of the clinics in Skåne are using the faulty system, and this dates back from an era when clinics could chose computer systems by themselves. Gradually clinics in Skåne have joined the new centralised system (which of course have sufficient backup and system for disaster recovery), and those affected by the fault are the last in line to join.

  3. Hi Thomas!

    Thanks for the clarification.  I was a little curious as to why there was no backup or disaster recovery plan in place, and now it makes a little more sense.