Patients at Veterans Affairs Department health centers around the country were given incorrect doses of drugs, had needed treatments delayed and may have been exposed to other medical errors due to software glitches that showed faulty displays of their electronic health records.
The glitches, which began in August and lingered until last month, were not disclosed to patients by the VA even though they sometimes involved prolonged infusions for drugs such as blood-thinning heparin, which can be life-threatening in excessive doses, according to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.
In one case, a patient having chest pains at the VA medical center in Durham, N.C., was given heparin for 11 hours longer than necessary as doctors sought to rule out a heart attack.
There is no evidence that any patient was harmed, even as the VA says it continues to review the situation. But the issue is more pressing as the federal government begins promoting universal use of electronic medical records.
Meanwhile, retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, 66, who has been nominated to lead the VA, was greeted warmly by senators and promised to modernize the nation's second largest agency. He told the senators in a confirmation hearing that he doesnt understand why veterans are currently waiting six months on average to have a claim processed. We need to do something about this, he said.