House rep. asks for HIT safety plan from HHS
Article Thumbnail ImageJune 15, 2012 -- A member of the U.S. House of Representatives wants to know if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has adopted recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to improve the safety of health information technology.
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On June 12, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives small business subcommittee on healthcare and technology, sent a letter to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting a copy of the agency's plan to minimize patient safety risks. The IOM report, published in November 2011, was prepared at the request of HHS to evaluate health IT safety concerns and to make recommendations. Key recommendations included improving transparency in the reporting of health safety IT incidents and enhancing the monitoring of health IT products.

The IOM report recommended greater oversight within the industry and by government agencies. Its authors called upon HHS to issue a plan within 12 months to minimize safety risks. The plan should include a schedule for working with the private sector to assess the impact on patient safety, the report stated.

In addition to requesting an account of the status of the plan, Ellmers requested a detailed accounting of all adverse incidents attributed to health IT technology, copies of the quality management principles being used by government agencies to assess and monitor safety as it relates to IT, and the status of the development of a mechanism for health IT vendors and users to report health IT-related deaths, injuries, and unsafe conditions.

Finally, she requested all copies of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and HHS reports, analyses, investigations, and documents relating to the regulation of healthcare IT products.

Ellmers, a registered nurse who spent more than 20 years in healthcare before running for Congress, requested a response by Sebelius within 30 days. A copy of her letter can be read clicking here.