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Setting national goals to bolster patient safety with electronic health records
Date:11/7/2012

HOUSTON (Nov. 7, 2012) Electronic health records (EHRs) are expected to improve patient safety, but they themselves can present challenges for which health care providers must be prepared. Experts at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) have proposed a framework to help develop new national patient safety goals unique to electronic health record-enabled clinical settings.

Their report appears in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"One of the reasons electronic health records were introduced was because we wanted to make health care safer, more efficient and of higher quality," said Dr. Hardeep Singh, assistant professor of medicine and health services research at the Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence and BCM. "However, electronic health records present new hazards that were brought in with the use of technology and were not seen before. In this paper, we propose a framework that addresses three types of intersections between patient safety and electronic health records."

Those three intersections include making sure that the EHR technology is itself safe, the application and use of the EHR technology is safe and the EHR technology is used to monitor and improve patient safety.

Dr. Dean Sittig, professor at the UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics and a member of the UTHealth-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety, uses the analogy of driving a car. First, you want to be sure that the car is safe, i.e., that your brakes and headlights are working. Next, you want to be sure that you are driving the car safely. That means you are not texting and driving, you have both hands on the wheel and your seatbelt is buckled. Finally, with newer cars, technology makes driving safer, as in when backup cameras serve as "eyes" in the back of your head. In essence, th
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Contact: Dipali Pathak
pathak@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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