The good news is that VA health centers around the country have begun implementing the use of electronic medical records for their patients. The bad news is that since a software upgrade in August of 2008, various glitches in the computerized records have put VA patients at risk. And the worse news, according to today’s AP News , is that the VA kept it all a secret, failing to even alert the very patients it had put at risk.
According to the AP, the errors occurred at 1/3 of the VA’s 153 medical centers. The glitches resulted in incorrect displays of patients’ health records, which led to the giving of incorrect doses of medications, and delays in treatment. Vital signs, lab results, and listings of current medications were displayed under names other than the actual patient’s, and stop orders for medications were not properly displayed, which resulted in some patients continuing to receive medication no longer needed.
President-elect Obama continues to push for full-scale implementation of electronic medical records. It is probably unrealistic to expect that making such a vast change in American healthcare will happen without problems. But it does not help the process when federal agencies like the VA apparently value public relations over the health and peace of mind of the veterans for whom they are charged with caring.