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After creating a field in a file, you can return to change or delete the field within the Modify File Attributes option, simply by entering the field name (or number) when asked:
When you return to the field in this option, you are able to change a field's:
After you are presented with these attributes of the field, you can change the attributes defined during the initial definition of the field as illustrated in the "Creating Fields" section.
For example, let's say you have created an SSN field (Social Security Number) in the PATIENT file and would now like to edit the field:
Select FIELD: SSN LABEL: SSN// TITLE: Social Security Number AUDIT: YES, ALWAYS AUDIT CONDITION:
NOTE: Auditing is described in the "Auditing" chapter in this manual.
READ ACCESS (OPTIONAL): DELETE ACCESS (OPTIONAL): WRITE ACCESS (OPTIONAL):
NOTE: Control of various kinds of access to files is described in the "Data Security" chapter in this manual.
SOURCE: Select DESTINATION: Select GROUP: DEMOG
A GROUP is a shorthand way for the user to refer to several fields at once when using the Print File Entries or the Enter or Edit File Entries options. Here, SSN is being assigned to the DEMOG group.
DESCRIPTION: 1>An entry is required. If you do not know this patient's Social 2>Security Number, enter '000000000' to indicate the number is 3>unknown. EDIT Option: TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION: 1>
The DESCRIPTION and TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION attributes document the use and meaning of the field. The information in DESCRIPTION is shown to the user when two question marks are entered at the "EDIT Option:" prompt. When initially creating a field, you are prompted for the DESCRIPTION field after the 'HELP'-PROMPT. The TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION is displayed only when the data dictionary is printed.
NOTE: Versions of VA FileMan prior to Version 21.0 allowed you to also enter a Help Frame for field documentation; that attribute is no longer supported.
DATA TYPE OF SSN: FREE TEXT// MINIMUM LENGTH: 9// MAXIMUM LENGTH: 9// (OPTIONAL) PATTERN MATCH (IN 'X'): X?9N// IS SSN ENTRY MANDATORY (Y/N): Y// 'HELP'-PROMPT: ANSWER MUST BE 9 CHARACTERS IN LENGTH Replace ... With Enter 9 numbers without dashes, e.g., 123456789. Replace Enter 9 numbers without dashes, e.g., 123456789.
To illustrate the use of GROUPs, add the NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, and SEX fields into the DEMOG group:
Select FIELD: NAME LABEL: NAME// ^GROUP Select GROUP: DEMOG DESCRIPTION: 1> TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION: 1> DATA TYPE OF NAME: FREE TEXT// ^
DATE OF BIRTH and SEX can be added to the GROUP in the same way. Now, when using the Enter or Edit File Entries option, you could say:
EDIT WHICH FIELD: DEMOG 1 DEMOG NAME 2 DEMOG SEX 3 DEMOG DATE OF BIRTH EDIT WHICH FIELD: Select PATIENT NAME: GREEN,RICHARD NAME: GREEN,RICHARD// SEX: MALE// DATE OF BIRTH: JAN 3, 1955//
Within the Modify File Attributes option, you can change the Data Type itself. There are limitations on the sort of changes you can make. These are listed below.
You must be very careful in making such changes if you already have file data entered, because there is no guarantee that the old data will match the newly specified criteria (e.g., field length). However, if you do change a field definition, you are asked if you want existing data checked for inconsistencies. A list of any discrepancies is printed. If more than one discrepancy is found, you can save the list of discrepant entries in a template. To generate this list later, use the Verify Fields option on the Utility Functions submenu.
The following restrictions apply to changing the definitions of existing data fields in a file:
Deleting a field and its definition is done by deleting the field Name (LABEL). Delete the field by typing the at-sign ("@") after the display of a field's LABEL when using the Modify File Attributes option:
Select OPTION: MODIFY FILE ATTRIBUTES DO YOU WANT TO USE THE SCREEN-MODE VERSION? Yes// NO (No) MODIFY WHAT FILE: PATIENT Select FIELD: SEX LABEL: SEX// @ SURE YOU WANT TO DELETE THE ENTIRE 'SEX' FIELD? YES OK TO DELETE 'SEX' FIELDS IN THE EXISTING ENTRIES? YES
CAUTION: If you answer NO to the "OK TO DELETE" question, data conflicts may occur in the future, if you create new fields. It is advisable to always delete existing entries. Only a programmer can delete the entries after you have answered NO.
Reviewed/Updated: March 4, 2007