Nextgov’s Bob Brewin reports that errors in patient data have forced the Department of Veterans Affairs to close access to the Bidirectional Health Information Exchange, the Defense Department’s vast electronic medical record system. The bug first surfaced in February when a physician noticed that the system claimed one of his female patients had been prescribed an erectile dysfunction drug. The errors have been blamed on old code in the six-year-old system which could not handle peak usage rates.
The glitch did not cause harm to any patient, but “the potential exists for decisions regarding patient care to be made using incorrect or incomplete data,” said Jean Scott, director of the Veterans Health Administration’s Information Technology Patient Safety Office, in the alert issued on Wednesday.
… The VA clinician may see the patient’s data during one session, but another session may not display the data previously seen,” the alert noted. “This problem occurs intermittently and has been reported when querying DoD laboratory, pharmacy and radiology reports.”
The system is expected to go back online March 9. Until then, Brewin writes, “VA doctors will have to obtain a patients’ health information from their paper medical files, faxes or PDF attachments that are e-mailed to the physicians.”
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