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Senators Grill VA Officials Over Deaths Linked to Electronic Health Record System

The US Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to discuss the future of the Oracle Cerner computer system, which was meant to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs electronic health records.

The hearing was held a day after VA officials reported deaths linked to the computer system.

The Oracle Cerner system has been facing issues since it was rolled out, and it is currently in place at five VA medical centers, including the Mann grand staff VA Medical Center in Spokane.

During the hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal revealed that his staff had heard from VA officials about four people who had died due to issues with the system, including one in Spokane.

Senator Patty Murray also expressed her frustrations with the system, saying that healthcare workers were burned out from trying to navigate the “broken interface,” which has caused delayed cancer diagnoses, among other issues.

The VA signed a contract with Cerner, which is now owned by Oracle, for $10 billion over ten years.

The new electronic health record computer system was initially rolled out in Spokane in 2020, and other locations, including VA medical centers in Walla Walla and Roseburg, Oregon, are now using the system.

The VA had delayed the rollout of the system to other locations until June 2023 to address the issues.

The current contract with Oracle Cerner ends in May.

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