Epic System Failure: Pain at Plainsboro Medical Center

Author: Zaiyong Tang, Dennis Comeau
Publisher: International Journal of Instructional Cases


IJIC, Volume 1 (2017)


This case describes an information system failure at a large hospital. The case highlights that information systems are much more than just the technology. Each of the three dimensions of information systems: people, organization, and technology played a critical role in building a robust, reliable, yet ultimately ineffective system. Plainsboro was fortunate that the Epic connection failure did not result in patient deaths. However, it became clear that a major overhaul of its backup and contingency information systems (EMR) was urgently needed


Disaster recovery, system failure, business continuity plan, MIS audit.

Target Audience and Usage

Upper level undergraduate business students and graduate students in system design. For graduate students, the case can be used in the first third of the term; undergraduates may need to wait until the end of the term. Most MIS textbooks have a chapter or section dealing with risk management and business continuity planning. The textbooks we have used for undergraduates include Essentials of MIS by Laudon and Laudon, Principles of Information Systems by Stair and Reynolds, and Introduction to Information Systems: Enabling and Transforming Business by Rainer and Cegielski.

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