HHS Issues Final Health IT Safety Plan

The Joint Commission will expand capacity to investigate health IT-related events, the agency also announced.

HHS announced that a plan to guide health information technology activities across its units, meant to eliminate medical errors, protect patients, and improve the quality and efficiency of health care, is now available. The final Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan "builds on recommendations from the 2011 Institute of Medicine report, titled Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care, and from public comments," according to its announcement.

"When implemented and used properly, health IT is an important tool in finding and avoiding medical errors and protecting patients," said National Coordinator for Health IT Dr.Farzad Mostashari. "This plan will help us make sure that these new technologies are used to make health care safer."

The plan outlines shared responsibilities. Through the plan, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will encourage reporting to Patient Safety Organizations and will update its reporting forms to enable ambulatory reporting of health IT events, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will encourage the use of the standardized reporting forms in hospital incident reporting systems and will train surveyors to identify safe and unsafe practices associated with health IT.

In addition, The Joint Commission will expand its capacity to investigate the role of health IT as a contributing cause of adverse events and will identify high-priority areas for expected types of events.

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