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ONC Issues Health IT Patient Safety Plan for Comment

December 27, 2012 | By More

Health IT and Patient SafetyHealth IT and Patient Safety

Last Friday the ONC issued the Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan for public comment. The plan calls for actions to improve patient safety in health IT. To that end, to support a culture of safety in the industry, the plan seeks shared responsibility among the government, EHR vendors, the private sector, patient safety organizations and providers.The plan builds on the recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care and addresses the role of health IT within HHS’s commitment to patient safety.

The Health IT Safety Plan will be open to public comments. Deadline to submit is February 4, 2013. Comments can be submitted by emailing ONC.Policy@hhs.gov. After the comment period closes, the ONC will revise and publish the final Health IT Safety Plan. The  plan covers a series of actions through 2015 and has two primary objectives:

  1. Promote the health care industry’s use of health IT to make care safer
  2. Continuously improve the safety of health IT

In a press release issued by the ONC, National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said“This report will help all of us better use health IT to deliver high quality care and improve patient safety.”

The plan acknowledges that health IT is integrated into healthcare delivery with research suggesting health IT is a “modest cause of medical errors.”  Of more critical interest to patient safety is the rise of EHR adoption, which may create more opportunity for harm. To support the tracking of patient safety events, the plan calls for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to encourage providers to report adverse events to patient safety organizations (PSOs) and to use AHRQ’s Common Formats when reporting. The ONC intends to propose EHR certification requirements using these AHRQ’s Common Formats for reporting safety events.

Key recommendations from the plan related to meaningful use and EHR certification include:

  • Use Meaningful Use of EHR technology to improve patient safety
  • Incorporate safety into certification criteria for health IT products.
  • Investigate and take corrective action, when necessary, to address serious adverse events or unsafe conditions involving EHR technology.

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Category: Health Information Technology

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