Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Committee to study efficacy of electronic health records on patient safety

The Obama administration pledged $19 billion of stimulus package funding to convert the nation's hospitals to electronic health records, but the conversion has been slow. "Only about one in four doctors, mostly in large group practices, is using the electronic record system," Milt Freudenheim of The New York Times reports. "A vast majority of physicians in small offices, the doctors who serve most Americans, still track patients’ illnesses and other problems with pen and paper." A recent report on North Carolina hospitals in the New England Journal of Medicine reveals deadly medical errors are still all too common.

The Food and Drug Administration notes "parts of a patient’s electronic medical records have disappeared or been saved in the wrong patient’s file," Freudenheim writes. "Incorrect entries have sometimes been posted for drug allergies and blood pressure readings, the agency said." To tackle those concerns, the Institute of Medicine created the Committee on Patient Safety and Health Information Technology to run a yearlong study and issue recommendations. "We said we value innovation, but we don’t value it more than safety," said Kenneth W. Goodman, a University of Miami bioethicist who headed an association advisory group on patient safety.

"In an indication of interest from Congress, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, wrote to the health information industry and to Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, to ask what was being done to make sure the systems were being reviewed and monitored for patient safety concerns and what role the FDA. played in regulating health information technology," Freudenheim writes. Dr. David Blumenthal, the Obama administration’s national coordinator for health information technology, explained, "All options for assuring safety are on the table." (Read more)

No comments: