Due to data-sharing regulations, Veteran’s Affairs trauma center doctors have had their access to
records necessary for treatment of soldiers wounded in Iraq and
Afghanistan blocked by the Pentagon since January 23.
The VA physicians handle troops with serious brain injuries and
other major health problems. They rely on digital medical records that
track the care given wounded troops from the moment of their arrival at
a field hospital through their evacuation to the United States.
About 30 VA doctors in four trauma centers around the country have
treated about 200 severely wounded soldiers and Marines. The docs had
been receiving the complete digital records from the Pentagon until the
end of January, using the Pentagon’s Joint Patient Tracking Application.
The access cutoff came after Morris, in a Jan. 23 e-mail, instructed
a colleague: “If the VA currently has access I need a list of persons
and I need their accounts shut off ASAP. It is illegal for them to have
access without data use agreements and access controls in place by
federal regulations and public law.”
There have been meetings
between VA and Pentagon officials. The Pentagon declined to comment
yesterday. VA officials apparently thought it might have been resolved
Monday. But an e-mail Monday from Morris to a co-worker said: “The
leadership has not authorized the VA accounts to be turned back on, in
case someone approaches you about this.”