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VA Medical Centers Admit to Drug Overdoses, Software Glitches

Almost One Third of the VA's 153 Centers Reported Seeing Problems

Patients treated at Veterans Affairs health centres across the US have reportedly suffered dangerous treatment delays, incorrect drug dosages, and been exposed to other medical errors resulting from software problems related to electronic health records. The problems allegedly began in August 2008, and continued through to December.

One case reported by the media cites a patient with chest pains treated in Durham NC, who received heparin for 11 hours beyond the required duration, while the physicians sought to determine whether or not the patient had suffered a heart attack.

An additional 9 cases of incorrect dosing were reported at VA medical centers in Milwaukee, Durham NC, and Marion IN, with 6 of the cases involving heparin drips. Infusions of sodium chloride or dextrose mixtures were also administered for up to 15 hours past the prescribed time, in some cases.

Equally disturbing is the fact that the mistakes were kept from the patients, prompting veterans groups to react with harsh criticism to the VA's secrecy. According to the media reports, the problems at the VA health centers began after the centers had received their annual software upgrades in August 2008.

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