Problems with the Veterans Affairs Departments electronic health-record system that resulted in nine reported medical errors have been fixed, according to the VA.
An Associated Press story brought attention to the issue, but the VA said the article contained several errors. For example, the story said the EHR glitches began in August 2008 and continued through December 2008, but the VA did not report those problems to patients. The VA, however, said it first learned about display problems with a new software program on Oct. 6, 2008, and sent an advisory to all of its facilities that same day.
The problem occurred when switching from one patients record to another while in the same session of what the VA calls CPRS, or its computerized patient-record system. Using new software, the first patients information sometimes displayed in the second patients display. The VA said it then ran numerous tests to re-create the problem and found no instance in which a patients medical records could be changed erroneously.
In nine incidents reported, a doctors order to stop intravenous infusions of a drug, most often heparin, failed to display, according to a written statement from the VA. No adverse effects occurred to the health of the patients from the delay in stopping the infusion, and no needed treatment was delayed, the statement said, adding that no harm was done to patients. The VA said it was able to tell facilities how to correct the problem a month later on Nov. 6, 2008.
VA has made a significant investment in safety checks, the statement said, and those checks, including nationwide patient-safety advisories and telephone conference calls, are exactly what kept this issue from becoming a serious problem.