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Joint Commission Alert: Prevent Technology-Related Health Care Errors
Date:12/11/2008

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Technology is often touted as the "cure" for health care, but a new Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert issued today warns that implementation of technology and related devices is not a guarantee for success, and may actually jeopardize the quality and safety of patient care.

The Joint Commission's Alert urges greater attention to understanding when a technology may (or may not) be applicable, choosing the right technology, understanding the impact technology can have on the quality and safety of patient care and attempting to quickly fix technology when it becomes counterproductive. The Alert makes clear that the overall safety and effectiveness of technology in health care ultimately depend on its human users, and that any form of technology can have a negative impact on the quality and safety of care if it is designed or implemented improperly or is misinterpreted.

The Alert notes that there is very little data on the number of errors directly caused by the increasing combined use of health information and devices. As an example, however, root cause analysis of errors shows that computerized medication orders and automated dispensing cabinets for medications are frequently involved. In addition to specific recommendations contained in the Alert, The Joint Commission urges health care organizations to use its Information Management accreditation standards to improve patient safety while using technology. Since technology is so common in health care--from admitting patients to the operating room to ordering and administering medication--any Joint Commission accreditation standard can be tied to technology.

"Innovations in technologies and information systems are vitally important to improve health care quality and safety, but we must be mindful of the safety risks and preventable errors that these implemen
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SOURCE The Joint Commission
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