McMorris Rodgers Blasts VA, Cerner for Patient Harm at Spokane VA

Jun 19, 2022
Press
Veterans

Washington, D.C. –  Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today released the following statement in response to a draft report by the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) claiming 148 veterans have been harmed by Cerner’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) system:

“I’m outraged by the reports of veterans being harmed by the Cerner electronic health record system,” said Rodgers. “For more than a year, Cerner and VA leadership have avoided accountability, withheld key findings and information, and put the lives of our nation’s heroes at risk. Their complete lack of transparency has led to a devastating breakdown in trust between veterans and the VA.

“I’ve had numerous conversations with both VA and Cerner leadership, in which I repeatedly raised concerns about ongoing problems with the system,” she continued. “Time and time again, my concerns—and the valid concerns raised by veterans and providers—were dismissed. It’s now clear the VA and Cerner both knew about major systematic flaws, yet they blatantly disregarded patient safety by rolling out the system to other facilities. These actions are reprehensible and entirely unacceptable for this agency, which has clearly lost sight of its sole mission of serving veterans.” 

According to The Spokesman-Review, the draft OIG report found the Cerner EHR failed to deliver more than 11,000 orders or referrals, resulting in harm to nearly 150 veterans. Additionally, the report details that VA leadership knew about the flaw in the system as early as October 21, 2021.

Despite identified patient safety concerns and Cathy’s repeated calls to halt the rollout of the Cerner EHR, VA leadership launched the system at the VA medical center in Walla Walla and other PNW facilities.

The final OIG report is expected to be released later this summer.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS:

  • In March 2021, Cathy called for a review of the Cerner electronic health record (EHR) system at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center. Her request was immediately agreed to by Department of VA Secretary Denis McDonough. 
  • In June 2021, the review was completed and revealed problems at Mann-Grandstaff that must be resolved before the system is deployed at additional VA sites.
  • In July 2021, Cathy called for increased transparency around the 90-day strategic review of the Cerner EHRM at Mann-Grandstaff and urged Secretary McDonough to address concerns around the real improvements that have yet to be made to the system.
  • In November 2021, Cathy testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee and encouraged Deputy Secretary Remy to join her on a visit to the Mann-Grandstaff. The deputy secretary later canceled the visit.
  • In February, Cathy called for the immediate delay of the EHR to the Walla Walla VA Medical Center until the issues with the system were resolved.
  • In March, Cathy released a statement following the crash of the Cerner EHR at Mann-Grandstaff that resulted in the system being offline for a full day.
  • In May, Cathy called for transparency from VA leadership amid a growing number of outages and rumors at the facility.

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