UnitedHealth Group recalls faulty EHR software

Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group has recalled electronic health record software used in hospital emergency departments after it was discovered that the software contained a bug causing it to lose doctors' notes accompanying medication prescriptions.

The software, Picis ED PulseCheck versions 5.2 and 5.3, could not maintain the notes manually entered on the prescriptions, causing them to seemingly "drop out" of the medical record, Bloomberg has reported. The bug affected facilities in more than 20 states.

UnitedHealth voluntarily reported the recall to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which posted the recall on its website July 29. The glitch has since been corrected, and no adverse patient safety events have been reported, UnitedHealth spokesperson Kyle Christensen told Bloomberg.

Emergency department EHRs are particularly susceptible to errors, according to one study.

The recall coincides with increased scrutiny of the safety of EHRs, but that may still leave gaps that could cause harm to patients. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' new health IT safety plan puts most of the burden of EHR safety on users, giving short shrift to problems stemming from design flaws. The plan also does not require vendors to report adverse events, as had been recommended by the Institute of Medicine. 

The Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 requires a regulatory framework for health IT, which may end up including EHRs under that rubric, according to the Health IT Policy Committee.

To learn more:
- here's the FDA recall notice
- read the Bloomberg article