With a single click of the mouse, a worker in the U.K. accidentally sent a test email to 840,000 co-workers on Monday, causing a good deal of chaos in the process.
The unnamed individual, who works for the National Health Service (NHS), mistakenly created an email distribution list that somehow included more than two-thirds of the entire workforce of NHS England. A spokesperson for the health service put it down to “a bug” in the system.
Making matters worse, several hundred people who received the email thought it’d be a good idea hit the reply-all button, an action that resulted in hundreds of millions of additional emails going out. Perhaps not surprisingly, the mass of messages surging through the secure system ended up reducing servers to a crawl for several hours throughout Monday.
Still, at least the gaffe prompted a few amusing tweets …
If youre having a bad morning just remember it could be worse, you could be the poor person who accidentally emailed THE ENTIRE NHS #NHSMAIL
— daniel owen (@daniel_owen_uk) November 14, 2016
My favourite was the one that said “You’re just making it worse, stop replying to everyone.” In a reply to everyone. #nhsmail
— kristian444 (@kristian444) November 14, 2016
… although NHS Pensions didn’t find it quite so funny …
If contacting us by email please be aware that there may be delays in responding due to an issue currently affecting all NHS mail.
— NHS Pensions (@nhs_pensions) November 14, 2016
Responding to the embarrassing blunder, a spokesperson for NHS Digital posted a statement confirming that the incident was “due to an NHS Mail user setting up an email distribution list, which inadvertently included everyone on the NHS Mail system.”
The spokesperson insisted that “this was not the fault of the user and was due to a bug in the supplier’s system. As soon as the issue was identified, our supplier disabled the distribution list so that no one else could respond to it. We anticipate that emails sent before the distribution list was disabled will soon stop being received and that the issue will be resolved.”
It appears the system is working properly again, though hopefully its tech team has destroyed that pesky software bug.