Cerner Sued Over Failed Hospital Installation

We seldom hear about these things (probably because of the EHR Gag Clauses that John wrote about previously), but this time word has gotten out. According to a report in The Kansas City Star, a critical access hospital northwest of Pittburg, Kan. has sued Cerner Corp. over an allegedly botched EMR installation.

In its suit, Girard Medical Center has made some ugly accusations against the HIT giant, including allegations that Cerner promised features that the system it bought didn’t have. (Oops.)

The suit also says that Cerner had demonstrated “disparaging attitudes” about the hospital. Hey, given the size projects it usually takes on, maybe Cerner didn’t feel the $2.9  million project was worth its time, and wasn’t so diplomatic about it.

What does seem to be established fact is that after a year of work, and $1.29 million in payments from Girard, Cerner backed out of the project last September.

Girard, for its part, demanded that Cerner repay the $1.9 million. Getting no satisfaction, it filed suit, accusing Cerner of a host of no-nos such as breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and fraud. Since that point, the suit has been kicked into arbitration, moved there by a provision of the contract Cerner managed to enforce.

Obviously, we are unlikely to ever know exactly what happened here, but I have a few theories:

-  As the story notes, Girard was desperate for Meaningful Use payments, but Cerner didn’t meet the initial deadline as the two sides had apparently agreed.  Did Cerner understand how important meeting such a deadline would be for a small hospital which depended on the incentive to finance the EMR?

- Maybe Cerner assigned junior people to this “little” project and they didn’t have what it took to get through the task.

-  Perhaps this is an EMR install failure like many others, but one ending in a lawsuit since the tiny hospital couldn’t afford to lose its investment.

What are your thoughts, readers?