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USA: Cerner’s VA software rollout report cites 150 “cases of harm”

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A serious revelation may derail the Cerner Millenium rollout. A draft report by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) states that a flaw in Cerner’s software caused the system to lose 11,000 orders for specialty care, lab work, and other services – without alerting healthcare providers the orders (also known as referrals) had been lost. This created ‘cases of harm’ to at least 150 veterans in care. 

The VA patient safety team classified dozens of cases of “moderate harm” and one case of “major harm.” The major harm cited affected a homeless veteran, aged in his 60s, who was identified as at risk for suicide and had seen a psychiatrist at Mann-Grandstaff in December 2020, after the implementation. After prescribing medication to treat depression, the psychiatrist ordered a follow-up appointment one month later. That order disappeared in the electronic health record and was not scheduled. The consequences were that the veteran, weeks after the unscheduled appointment date, called the Veterans Crisis Line. He was going to kill himself with a razor. Fortunately, he was found in time by local first responders, taken to a non-VA mental health unit, and hospitalized.

The draft report implies that the ‘unknown queue’ problem has not been fixed and continues to put veterans at risk in the VA system.

There may be as many as 60 other safety problems. Other incidents cited in the draft report include one of “catastrophic harm” and another case the VA told the OIG may be reclassified as catastrophic. Catastrophic harm is defined by the VA as “death or permanent loss of function.”

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Source: Telehealth and Telecare Aware, 21 June 2022

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