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Patients at VA Health Centers Exposed to Incorrect Drug Doses

Software glitches put the medical care of patients at VA health centers across the country at risk. The top Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee has demanded an explanation from the VA.

“I am deeply concerned about the consequences on patient care that could have resulted from this ‘software glitch’ and that mistakes were not disclosed to patients who were directly affected. I have asked VA for a forensic analysis of all pertinent records to determine if any veterans were harmed, and I would like to know who was responsible for the testing and authorized the release of the new application.” said Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind.

According to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, patients at VA health centers had needed treatments delayed, were given incorrect doses of drugs and may have been exposed to other medical errors due to the glitches that showed faulty displays of their electronic health records.

The glitches are believed to have begun in August and lingered until December. These software glitches were not disclosed to patients by the VA, despite the fact that the errors sometimes involved prolonged infusion for drugs, such as heparin, a blood-thinning medication. If given in excessive doses, heparin can be life-threatening.

Veterans groups have criticized the VA, saying that the agency’s secrecy created a false sense of security.

The VA says that it is continuing to review the situation, but there is currently no evidence of any patients being harmed. These software glitches have raised some concern as the federal government begins promoting universal use of electronic medical records. President Barack Obama has made it a top priority, which is included as part of an additional $50 billion a year in spending for health information technology programs that he has proposed.