Delays in scanning patient records into the VA Medical Center’s electronic record system are having a devastating effect on the healthcare our nation’s veterans are receiving. Inside Sources reports that the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in our nation’s capital has yet to process 1,550 inches of pages of medical records. Some records date back to 2014.
The VA medical center claims that about half of the backlog doesn’t impact medical care. That still leaves about 750 inches of records that need to be scanned and entered as soon as possible.
The news of the delay is based on a report filed with the Office of Inspector General. Per that report:
“The OIG found that 1,550 inches of patient reports dating back to 2014 had not been scanned into the EHR system. This prevented healthcare providers from accessing patient results to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the patients’ healthcare needs and provide timely quality care…. As of the May 2018 OIG visit, the contractors were apparently still unable to access the EHR system to commence scanning the documents.”
How the electronic health care record delay is affecting healthcare
The failure to have access to the electronic health records (EHRs) means the treating physicians don’t have the information they need to advise their patients and to provide timely care: “Failing to process medical records for veterans with sensitive medical conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suicidal tendencies, or a variety of debilitating physical conditions can severely impact veterans’ quality of life and can even result in loss of life,” Inside Sources points out, highlighting one of the more serious effects of the backlog.
The problems at the Veterans Center are part of larger healthcare problems that is affecting other medical centers. The Medical Center hasn’t had a full-time permanent director for several years. More training and oversight is being demanded. Advocates for better healthcare at the medical center say the problems are related to the thousands of vacancies in healthcare nationwide – especially at the VA.
Dawn Jirak, a deputy director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars who worked as a medic for the US Air Force for 20 years, said she knows from experience that expiration dates on medication need to be checked on every shift each and every day. That’s not being done at the VA Center, according to the OIG report, making medication errors all the more likely. She also stated that there’s too much change in personnel which makes communication tougher and makes it harder to know which people can get things done.
The truth is, filling job vacancies at medical centers like the VA can be difficult. The jobs require extensive background checks and security clearance. That’s been one of the problems with the contractors. Unlike a corporate IT department, the VA contractors need to get the right clearance. But lack of training doesn’t make up for the negligence the VA is committing by slow-walking the records.
At Gainsberg Law, our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys work with competent and caring doctors who understand what actions or inactions constitute medical malpractice. We have extensive experience holding doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers accountable when they take lives or cause physical harm. For help now, please call us at 312.313.1621 or fill out our contact form to speak with an attorney in Chicago.