Acknowledging that new health information technologies can create patient-safety risks, HHS' health IT office is inviting healthcare providers, vendors and the public to comment on its recently issued national Health Information Technology Patient Safety Action & Surveillance Plan.
"Just as health IT can create new opportunities to improve patient care and safety, it can also create new potentials for harm," the plan, released by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, states. The plan's authors cited "poor user interface design or unclear information displays" as potential contributors to dangers such as physicians ordering the wrong drugs for patients. "Health IT will only fulfill its enormous potential to improve patient safety if the risks associated with its use are identified, if there is a coordinated effort to mitigate those risks and if it is used to make care safer," the authors wrote.
The plan comes in response to an Institute of Medicine report, Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care, that was commissioned by the ONC and released in November 2011. The IOM's report, like the just-released HHS plan, emphasized there was little hard information about the root causes of IT-related errors, but the IOM concluded from the limited data available that much of the threat comes from the ways providers use IT.