Oracle Database Failure Prompts VA Cerner EHR System Outage

A two-hour Cerner EHR system outage affected users across the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD), and the Coast Guard.

The latest outage to affect the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) EHR modernization (EHRM) program began with an Oracle database failure, according to reporting from FedScoop.

Last Wednesday, the Cerner EHR platform went offline for two hours, impacting users across the VA, the Department of Defense (DoD), and the Coast Guard, a VA spokesperson told the news outlet. The system was down between 4:09 PM and 6:15 PM CST.

The spokesperson said that the incident started with a failure of one of three Oracle databases. A full investigation into the root cause of the incident is ongoing.

“All database, application, and Citrix nodes were restarted, restoring service,” the VA spokesperson noted. “There was no data loss or data corruption. Users logged back on and were able to use the system normally.”

The official said that the VA will produce a full incident report after normal major incident processes.

“Cerner remains steadfast in its support of our federal clients’ efforts to provide timely, high-quality care through a single, common electronic health record,” Pat Sargent, general manager of Cerner Government Services, said in a statement to FedScoop.

“We continue to work hand-in-hand with our federal partners to address any and all concerns and are committed to getting this right for Service members, Veterans, and their families,” Sargent added. “Any downtime, however brief, is unacceptable and we work each day to ensure we are delivering the best possible solutions.”

This outage comes after VA had to take the software offline for more than 20 hours last month upon discovery of a bug in a software update.

Cerner mixed up certain patient records during that event, which required staff at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center and associated clinics in Washington and Idaho to return to paper records.

Cloud vendor Oracle is currently seeking antitrust approval to acquire Cerner for $28.3 billion. Oracle did not respond to a request for comment from FedScoop.

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