VA's EHR deployment plagued by safety risks, inspection finds

The VA inspector general released three reports March 17 highlighting serious safety concerns about the system's new EHR system, scheduled to be rolled out next week, The Washington Post reported March 17. 

The reports focus on the most recent rollout of the $16 billion EHR system in Spokane, Wash., which produced a plethora of challenges including mediation management issues, care coordination concerns and ticket process issues. 

Under the new system, medical appointments took months to schedule and website access was blocked for many patients, telehealth links were faulty and troubleshooting tickets went unanswered. 

There were serious medication-related issues, with some medications disappearing from the system. Outpatient drug orders were often uncompleted and nurses were able to prescribe drugs without reviews or approvals from physicians. Some patients at high risk of suicide were not alerted by the system and physicians were unable to access the proper resources leaving the patients without support. 

"These three reports found serious deficiencies and failures in the implementation of the new electronic health record at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, which increased the risks to patient safety and made it more difficult for clinicians to provide quality health care," said Inspector General Michael J. Missa. 

Some lawmakers have called for a pause in the rollout of the new EHR system, but it is set to continue March 26 in Walla Walla, Wash., followed by Columbus, Ohio.

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