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

e car is making your driving experience safer.

"That's what we want from electronic health records," said Sittig.

To account for variation in stages of EHR implementation across clinical practice settings, Sittig and Singh propose that goals should first address safety hazards unique to technology (i.e. safer EHRs in phase 1). Phase 2 goals should mitigate safety hazards from failure to use technology appropriately (i.e. safer application and use of EHRs); and phase 3 goals should stimulate the use of technology in order to monitor and improve patient safety (i.e. leveraging EHRs to detect all types of hazards and facilitating oversight).

Health care groups using electronic health records should start with phase 1, ensuring that the technology is safe to use, said Singh and Sittig. That includes making sure the technology is fast enough to ensure acceptable system response time and there is a data backup in the case of a loss or corruption of the main data store. In phase 2, the groups should make sure that electronic health records are being used appropriately. Some organizations mix paper records and electronic records, which can result in not only extra work but also confusion and risky scenarios when doctors and nurses have to refer to two different records.

"We suggest that organizations should use electronic health records "completely" rather than partially. It should be the only way to practice medicine in hospitals," said Sittig.

In some cases, hospitals allow physicians on some units to use paper for orders while other units require that orders be entered through electronic health records, a potential hazard. He suggests the technology should be used consistently for the same purpose rather than haphazardly, which creates a lack of clarity.

Finally, organizations should address phase 3 to improve patient safety by better measurements.

For example, they said, the computer could monitor risky
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Contact: Dipali Pathak
pathak@bcm.edu
713-798-4710
Baylor College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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