Hospitals in Louisiana are being investigated. “At issue is whether the facilities mishandled evacuations of patients, abandoned them during the devastating storm or euthanized patients to spare them pain when rescuers didn’t arrive for days.”

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  • charlesbeauchamp

    What happened at the New Orleans VA?

    Answer:
    A VA Central Office Crisis Management team contacted the National Guard and successfully evacuated all patients and staff without apparent incident.

    And, for veteran evacuees coming for followup care at other VA facilities, we have the complete electronic medical record available in seconds on our computers. That means that no one who is a veteran and was being seen at the New Orleans VA will suffer because of lack of available medical record information.

    What about all the patients from New Orleans who do not have access to their medical records? That is part of the Katrina National Disgrace as the untimely death of any individual because of the lack of planning, locally, state-wide and nationally.

    The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is currently beta testing an extrapolation of the VA’s VisTA electronic medical record. It is called Vista-Office (vista-office.org). Once it is released and adopted by non-VA physicians seeing Medicare, Medicaid and uninsured patients, there can be a centralized AND SECURE repository of medical information on patients. So, for the next New Orleans like evacuation of patients (that could well happen as the result of a act of terrorism) those patients should have access to their medical records when and where they need it regardless of their socioeconomic status or the physical status of the building where they received their health care.

    Before (Biloxi VA), during (New Orleans VA) and after (all VA facilities), the VA system is a federal system that performed well in the Katrina National Disgrace.

    What happened to patients during and after Katrina is one major manifestation of the Katrina National Disgrace that we all have to say a mea culpa to for lack of forcing ourselves to have adequate disaster plans in place with regard to the physical facilities and the aftercare of patients caught up in a disaster.

    Sure we can prosecute. But, perhaps we should prosecute every adult in this country for tolerating a situation that should be covered by adequate planning.

    How secure are your medical records? What would happen to them if your clinic or hospital got flooded or effectively destroyed? Does your hospital have a nationally run plan for evacuating patients in the event of a disaster like the VA has?

    Charles Beauchamp MD, PhD
    Primary Care General Internist, Durham VA Medical Center
    A native of New Orleans
    A future resident of the New New Orleans

  • Anonymous

    How secure are my medical records?? Have you ever asked for copies of your records or test results? Talk about getting treated like a criminal. If I ask for copies, I get one page and an averted gaze from the Drill Sargean….I mean nurse. I finally resorted to writing a check and providing a self addressed big fat envelope. You’d think these were the doctor’s records and not mine.

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