WhiteCoat

The Future Under Socialized Medicine?

According to a Yahoo News article (similar article in the Washington Post) a medical records software upgrade in the VA Hospital computer system put the lives of all hospitalized veterans at risk late last year.

According to the article, the “computer glitch” caused patients to get the wrong medications, to receive the wrong doses of medications, to experience delays in treatment, and to receive blood thinning medications for longer than the doctor had ordered them.

The VA was quick to point out that it was not aware of any patient injuries from the “computer glitch,” but the article noted that the VA also tried to “keep the problems quiet” and didn’t initially notify the patients involved in the mix-up.

The article also quotes Dr. Bart Harmon, a former Pentagon chief medical information officer, as saying that “the VA’s problems could become more common as more hospitals and doctors’ offices move toward electronic records.”

The VA system currently includes 153 medical centers and cares for 5.5 million patients. What’s going to happen if a similar system becomes responsible for 5756 hospitals and more than 1 billion patient care visits every year under “socialized medicine”?

Giving unnecessary infusions, delaying care, and trying to “keep problems quiet” aren’t included on the quality indicators list the the government’s “Hospital Compare” web site.

Oh – I forgot. It doesn’t matter. The government won’t put its own hospitals up there for everyone to compare, anyway.

6 Responses to “The Future Under Socialized Medicine?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    At the VA where I work there were multiple emails sent out about the software glitch. We had to acknowledge receipt of said announcements. I do not write inpatient orders very often, so did not notice the glitch personally.
    I doubt many patients were harmed over and above the usual mishaps which typically occur in teaching hospitals.
    But that being said, each time they update CPRS there are new functionalities being added. Yet we don’t get much in the way of inservices regarding the software changes and are frequently left to figure out what has changed and how to look up data in a different way.
    But before you condemn the gubmint, be aware that my boss also works at a local private hospital which implemented its EMR to much fanfare a couple years ago. He says it is much less user friendly than the VA system and he’d rather have the VA EMR anyday.

  2. HyperAl says:

    And if somebody is injured by this glitches, who is liable the hospital/doctors or the software manufacturers or maybe the goverment for mandating it?

  3. sch says:

    VA made the software available as compressed down
    loads awhile back, it is unclear what exactly was
    offered except it was described as the EMR package
    they used. First packet was 400+ MB, second
    follow on packet was ~1.5GB. IIRC there were a
    few supplementals, much smaller as well.

  4. ERdoc says:

    Have you ever worked in the VA hospital? I was actually quite impressed with their EMR system. The only patients displaced by Katrina whose medical records were not lost in the shuffle were VA patients.

    • WhiteCoat says:

      During my training, I did, and it was permeated by a “not my job,” “I’ll get to it whenever,” “not while I’m on my lunch break” type of attitude. In addition, most VA patients that I see in the ED purposely seek care outside the VA for their problems. In the VA system in my region, it is a foregone conclusion that you can’t access medical records or anyone to help you if you’re calling them outside of normal business hours. Don’t even waste your time trying.
      I realize that my single experience is not necessarily representative of all VA systems, but my personal impression is not very good.

  5. rogue medic says:

    It does vary from VA to VA. Some of the employees seem to take pleasure in being infantile.

    At the local VA nursing home, they do not allow the patients to have internet access. The administration claims it is a security risk. It is more likely that the patients would have an easier time notifying news organizations of the problems with patient care. Or maybe people who sacrificed mobility defending their country really are Osama bin Ladin’s Fifth Column.

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