Healthcare Roundup—$20B VA software program plagued by problems, Ebola response ramps up

$20B software program for VA plagued by problems

A digital health program piloted at several Veterans Affairs medical sites had such serious problems it could have led to patient deaths, according to an evaluation by the Pentagon.

Politico reported the nearly $20 billion health program, which was pushed by President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and originally approved under the Obama administration, had more than 150 "critical" or "severe" incident reports.

The problems with the program, installed by Cerner Corp., could result in a delay in a related VA contract for digital health records system with that vendor. (Politico article)

Response to new Ebola outbreak ramps up

As concerns rise about a developing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, health officials there could soon begin testing an experimental vaccine developed by Merck to help stop it.

STAT reported over the weekend that the DRC government has requested the vaccine as it seeks to curb new cases. The publication reported the World Health Organization has 4,300 doses of the vaccine stockpiled, while the U.S. has 300,000 doses stockpiled. Merck has given the OK. (STAT article)

University Hospitals calls for fertility clinic failure lawsuit dismissals

Cleveland-based University Hospitals is defending itself against lawsuits filed over the loss of embryos in its fertility clinic due to a storage malfunction earlier this year, calling for dismissals of two cases brought against it.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports UH lawyers called for the two cases to be thrown out because they had failed to include proper documentation known as an affidavit of merit required by Ohio law. 

In a statement to the Plain Dealer, a UH spokesman said, "University Hospitals continues to offer clinical and emotional support to patients affected by this difficult situation." (Cleveland Plain Dealer article)

Cinncinati health system to pay False Claims violation 

Cinncinati-based Mercy Health agreed to pay $14.25 million to settle a federal False Claims Act allegations.

Mercy self-disclosed “improper financial relationships with referring physicians,” the Cincinnati Business Courier reported. That included an oncologist and five internal medicine doctors who received compensation above fair market value for their services, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Mercy operates about 450 health facilities, including 23 hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky. (Cincinnati Business Courier)