VA Health Care:

VA Did Not Thoroughly Investigate All Allegations by the Froelich Trust Group

HRD-92-141: Published: Sep 4, 1992. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the effectiveness of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) investigation into allegations made by a veterans group, focusing on the thoroughness, objectivity, and conclusions drawn by VA investigators.

GAO found that: (1) VA did not thoroughly investigate the allegation that its software integration procedures for its Decentralized Hospital Computer Program (DHCP) failed to protect medical data in existing databases because its investigative approach could not identify specific examples of software integration problems; (2) VA examination of automated and paper medical records did not verify the accuracy of its medical databases because it did not examine the medical data that were most susceptible to input errors; (3) because of the large number of incomplete paper medical records, VA has advised its facilities to ensure that all paper documents are filed in patient records, and designated DHCP as the foundation of the computer-based patient record, but did not make that designation mandatory; (4) VA thoroughly investigated the allegations of personnel misconduct and fraudulent reports, and although it found no evidence to support the allegations, it did find numerous internal control weaknesses; (5) VA did not investigate the allegation that its medical software development is mismanaged and outdated, but had already initiated efforts to improve DHCP management before receiving the allegation; (6) VA agreed with the allegations that DHCP was slow and not user friendly, and that the order entry software did not follow physician logic, but the order entry system was not meant to be used by physicians; and (7) VA is working toward developing better software.

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