VA warns 41,500 veterans that EHR deployment issues may have affected care — report

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has warned 41,500 veterans that their care may have been affected by delays in the rollout of the Oracle Cerner electronic health records system.

In an interview with The Spokesman-Review newspaper, VA Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal on Oct. 12 said the department’s findings from a recent review led it to send letters to veterans whose medications, appointments, referrals or test results may have been delayed due to problems with the system.

“Unfortunately, we discovered that safety concerns were voluminous enough and prevalent enough throughout the system that we had to disclose to 41,500 veterans that their care may have been impacted as a result of the system’s deployment as it is currently configured,” Elnahal told the newspaper.

Veterans who may have been affected were identified through a review by VA patient safety experts and through data provided by Oracle Cerner on all patients enrolled at hospitals and clinics where the system has been deployed.

According to the report, the VA began mailing letters on Oct. 12 and all affected veterans are expected to receive them within about two weeks.

The group of about 41,500 patients represents a minority of the veterans enrolled for care at facilities using the new system.

News of the letters comes as the VA Thursday announced that it would delay all future deployments of the electronic health record system until June next year.

In a statement, the department said it was pushing back the rollout to “address challenges with the system and make sure it is functioning optimally for veterans and for VA health care personnel.”

Earlier this year, a leaked draft report by the VA Office of Inspector General revealed nearly 150 cases of harm linked to the Oracle Cerner system, and shortly after VA Secretary Denis McDonough hit pause on deployments planned for the summer of 2022 in Seattle, Tacoma and Boise.

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Denis McDonough, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Oracle Cerner, Shereef Elnahal
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