An accidental Internet Explorer (IE) upgrade on some computers caused the Hospital Authority’s (HA) clinic management system on-ramp (CMS) to freeze.

A spokesperson for the HA said that its Information Technology and Health Informatics Division wrongly upgraded IE 9 to IE 11, which was incompatible with the system. In some cases, the CMS developed by the HA could only function using IE 9, which caused problems with medical staff unable to read health records, carry out X-ray services and access the medication prescription and distribution system.

An accidental Internet Explorer upgrade on some computers caused the Hospital Authority’s clinic management system on-ramp to freeze. Photo: Apple Daily & Wikimedia Commons.

The IT Division received reports from hospitals that the computers were inaccessible at 4:30pm on September 30. Around 200 – or 1.5 percent – of the computers in public hospitals running the CMS were affected. Medical staff could use other computers in public hospitals during the incident.

The HA said the IT Division fixed the mistake promptly, and sent out staff to check if other computer systems in public hospitals were affected. On October 1, the HA said it confirmed the affected computers were running normally after the fix. Patients were not affected, but the efficiency may have been reduced, the HA added.

The HA has instructed the IT Division to fully investigate the incident to find out the cause of the blunder and ensure it won’t happen again.

Charles Mok. File Photo: Facebook/Charles Mok.

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok said on social media: “I think we need to know if it [the incident] was caused because there were no related procedures, or there were procedures but they were not followed?”

“Both possibilities are serious, but we need to know more to improve and be sure it will not happen again,” he added.

Local newspaper Oriental Daily, however, reported that almost 10,000 computers were affected. A doctor working at an emergency room of a public hospital in Hong Kong Island told the newspaper that medication could not be prescribed between September 30 to October 3.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.