The new Laboratory Information System that the government is implementing in its hospital laboratories across Quebec suffered a widespread outage on Wednesday morning. For more than an hour and a half, the nine hospitals that have been connected to the system so far have been forced to switch to manual mode and only process urgent samples.

In a note sent around 11 a.m. to all its employees on Wednesday morning, the CIUSSS de la Montérégie-Centre indicated that “the laboratory’s computer system is currently down”. “The duration of this outage has significant impacts on our business and our response time. Only STAT and emergency analyzes will be performed,” reads the memo obtained by La Presse.

The outage affected the nine hospitals connected to the new provincial laboratory information system (SIL-P), namely the CHUM, the Suroît hospital, the Cité-de-la-Santé hospital, the CHUS Fleurimont, CHUS – Hôtel-Dieu, Granby Hospital, Barrie-Memorial Hospital, Pierre-Boucher Hospital and Charles-Le Moyne Hospital.

“We had to switch to manual and paper mode. It leads to some chaos. And a certain overload of work,” notes Mélanie Leblanc, president of the APTS executive at the CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre. Ms. Leblanc says she doesn’t know how many samples were slowed down by the outage. “But just the requests that we get from ER are a significant volume,” she said.

Since this is a province-wide outage, the CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre directed questions from La Presse to the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS), which did not could answer it on Wednesday. At the CHUM, communications officials indicated that “services experienced a slowdown in the morning which quickly subsided in the afternoon and [that] no samples were rejected”.

President of the APTS at the CHUM, Nathalie Moreau specifies that during the breakdown, the laboratory results were sent by fax to the emergency room. “The reason for the outage is still unknown,” she said.

Launched last fall, the SIL-P aims to implement a single new computer system in all 120 hospital laboratories in the province. Currently, five different companies provide LIS in Quebec. And there are “more than 70 versions of systems that do not communicate with each other” in the health network, according to the MSSS.

In the fall, the implementation of the new SIL-P ran into problems forcing the government to slow down the pace of deployment, as La Presse reported in December1.

In an investigation to be published on Friday, La Presse will present in more detail the stormy development of this $165 million project.

Wednesday’s outage is one more tile that falls on this ambitious IT contract. The whole thing occurs while the laboratories of the province are under great pressure, in particular for lack of personnel. In February, the two Quebec medical federations wrote an open letter denouncing the “failed deployment” of the SIL-P and asking for an emergency intervention from the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé.