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Unanticipated consequences of health-care information technology
Date:9/18/2007

PHILADELPHIA -- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) have developed a framework to help hospital managers, physicians, and nurses handle the tough challenges of implementing health information technology (HIT) by directly addressing the unintended consequences that undermine safety and quality.

As documented in a 2005 JAMA article by Penns Ross Koppel, PhD, computerized physician order entries, CPOE for short, reduce medication errors due to transcription or hand-writing deficiencies but produce many unintended consequences. For example, in some CPOE systems, physicians must enter the patients weight before ordering some types of medications. Physicians will often insert an estimated weight just to order the desired medication, without being able to indicate it as an estimation. That number is then used by subsequent physicians for medications requiring more careful weight measurements. Koppel is the Principal Investigator of an AHRQ-supported study of hospital workplace culture and medication error at Penns Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a faculty member in Penns Sociology Department.

In this new paper, co-authors Koppel, AHRQs Michael I. Harrison, PhD, and Shirly Bar-Lev, PhD, from the Ruppin Academic Center, Israel, show managers and clinicians how to avoid or catch unintended consequences before they cause lasting harm. This study appears in the September issue of the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association JAMIA.

Use of sophisticated HIT in hospitals is increasing dramatically. In addition to CPOE, other examples in which unintended consequences can occur are decision support systems and electronic medical records. Health care facilities are investing millions of dollars in health care information technology as they seek to improve patient care, safety, efficiency, and cost savings. Yet the results are oft
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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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