Technology-induced medical errors—a problem that health IT stakeholders once were loathe to admit existed—now are part of mainstream discussions about the implications of health information technology.
AHRQ offers guide for avoiding tech-related medical errors
So, what to do about them?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded a study by the not-for-profit RAND Corp. to come up with some answers, which have been posted to AHRQ's website as a "Guide to Reducing Unintended Consequences of Electronic Health Records."
The guide includes a list—sourced to the Joint Commission—of recommended best practices for avoiding unintended consequences of EHR use. Among the recommendations are actively involving clinicians in technology quality-improvement efforts and the reassessment of technology tools, carefully reviewing skipped or rejected alerts and performing root-cause analysis to determine the origin of system errors. In addition, the guide asserts, staff involved in data entry should be protected from "undue distractions" when using the technology.
The guide also features tips on monitoring EHR use and managing an IT system upgrade as well as links to various tool kits, including a tutorial prepared by the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department on applying the failure-modes-and-effects-analysis method to conduct systematic assessments of system vulnerabilities.
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