EMR Safety Warnings at CA Health System Echo Joint Commission's

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , August 21, 2012

Either way, it's bad news.

"The overall safety and effectiveness of technology in health care ultimately depends on its human users, ideally working in close concert with properly designed and installed electronic systems," the Joint Commission wrote in Sentinel Event Alert Number 42, dated December 2008.

Later on there's this: "If not carefully planned and integrated into workflow processes, new technology systems can create new work, complicate workflow, or slow the speed at which clinicians carry out clinical documentation and ordering processes."

So no one can say there hasn't been sufficient, serious warning of the risks of rushing EMRs into use. But with stimulus money for EMR deployment available for a limited time only, the rush to grab that money is clearly at odds with careful planning. This is true to a greater extent now than when the Joint Commission issued its warning.

The Joint Commission report also speaks of the impairment of patient safety by the failure to quickly fix technology. "Unsolved problems engender dangerous workarounds," the 2008 report warns. "Systems not properly integrated are prone to data fragmentation because new data must be entered into more than one system."

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