WA Senator Demands VA Halt EHR Implementation for Patient Safety

After an OIG report found patient safety issues with the VA EHR implementation, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) called on the VA to stop the rollout.

A Washington senator has demanded that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delay its planned March 26th EHR implementation in Walla Walla after an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report revealed dozens of unresolved patient safety problems with the new Cerner system.

The OIG report found that the EHR implementation launched in October 2020 at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, has created difficulties for end-users in critical areas such as clinical documentation and referral management.

“After hearing from the VA Office of Inspector General, it’s clear to me that VA is not ready for go-live of the EHR system at the VA Medical Center in Walla Walla, and we need to put a pause on this rollout right now,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable to me that VA knew about widespread, egregious patient safety risks associated with its ongoing rollout of its Cerner Electronic Health Record System—but in conversations with my office, VA has been expressing confidence and readiness for the go-live date at the Walla Walla VA,” she said. “This was simply not the case.”

Murray noted that veterans in Spokane have been receiving the wrong medications due to deficiencies with the EHR implementation. Additionally, the Cerner EHR has failed to alert providers about patients for risk of suicide, she said.

“The allegations substantiated by the Inspector General must be addressed immediately and frankly I am furious that VA leadership and Cerner seem to be minimizing very serious problems or wrongly claiming that ongoing issues have been ‘resolved,’” Murray emphasized.

“VA, and Cerner, need to be completely transparent with Congress and cannot withhold or slow walk information to the Inspector General’s office,” she added. “I’m grateful to the staff who have raised these concerns with my office and the Inspector General—because without them, we would not know the extent of these patient safety risks.”

Murray also noted that she commends the front-line staff and providers in Spokane who have been working hard to care for veterans.

“My top priority here is the safety and health of Washington state veterans, and VA will not stop hearing from me until it stops the EHR rollout and fixes this,” Murray said.

“I do not want to see the EHR system move so much as an inch further in Washington state until VA has proven to me that it’s fixed the problems in Spokane and provided clear, objective data showing resolutions to concerns raised by the Inspector General’s reports,” Murray concluded.

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Clinical documentation

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing