Software glitch exposes VA patients to errors

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

As a result of software glitches, “Patients at VA health centers were given incorrect doses of drugs, had needed treatments delayed and may have been exposed to other medical errors,” the Associated Press reports.

The errors, involving faulty displays of electronic health records, were exposed after the AP received internal documents requested under the Freedom of Information act.

“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.”

As the AP points out, such glitches are worrisome as the federal government is expected to strongly promote the use of electronic medical records.

While there is no evidence that any patients were harmed, there were nine reported cases in which patients received incorrect doses and nearly one-third of the VA’s medical centers reported seeing some kind of glitch.

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