Sen. Tina Smith Presses Veterans Department to Explain Life-Endangering Failures in New Digital Health System

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to explain several serious issues with a digital health system designed for clinics and hospitals that treat millions of veterans and service members. The system, which is being tested right now at a handful of military hospitals and is set to be scaled up nationwide in the years to come, has been mired so far by glitches and dangerous errors that put patients at risk.

According to a report from Politico, the initial rollout of the MHS Genesis EHR system has resulted in substantial slowdowns, serious medical errors, and a work environment in which doctors are afraid to do their jobs for fear of harming patients.

In her letter to Secretary David Shulkin, Sen. Smith pressed the VA to clarify in detail how it plans to improve the EHR system, which is expected to cover more than 9.4 million Department of Defense beneficiaries, more than 200,000 Military Health System personnel worldwide, and eventually the entire VA medical system.

“The men and women who have honorably served our nation in uniform deserve our utmost respect, and when they return home as veterans we need to make sure they get all the benefits and care they were promised,” wrote Sen. Smith in her letter. “Recent reports have indicated that this new system has endangered the lives of patients and made it extremely difficult for doctors to do their jobs. I am deeply troubled by these reports and would like to learn, in an expeditious manner, more about the implementation problems and what steps are being taken to fix them.”

You can read Sen. Smith’s full letter here