IOM gets it right: Watchdog agency needed to assue patient safety


(PR NewsChannel) / November 11, 2011 / AUSTIN, Texas 

Patient Privacy Rights applauds the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation to create a federal watchdog agency to monitor and investigate the safety of health information technologies and devices.

The report, titled “Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care,” was released Thursday, November 10, 2011.

There is no question that widespread use of untested, unproven EHRs and health technologies will potentially cause injuries and deaths and different kinds of medical and human errors. Further, the loss of patient control over who can see and use their sensitive personal health information will be difficult to control. An independent federal watchdog agency is long overdue.

Outlandish thinking that technology can cure the economy and heal the sick has led to unprecedented financial opportunities for the health technology industry. The stimulus billions are rapidly being spent, before critical rethinking of today’s electronic systems can take place, before the safety of existing systems can be evaluated, and before we know what systems patients will actually trust and be willing to participate in.

We recommend several additional steps to protect patient safety:

• Existing EHRs and health IT systems should not be ‘grandfathered’ in as safe and reliable—all systems must be reviewed, tested, and the safety, effectiveness, and privacy and security protections are measured and constantly monitored;

• NIST or a similar organization should set standards for health technologies; • Technology licensees and EHR users must be required to report errors;

• Strong ‘whistleblower’ protections must be included;

• Legal liability for the use of EHRs and technology products must reside with vendors;

• We recommend conferring watchdog agency responsibilities to the FTC rather than HHS (The FTC has a long track record of acting to protect consumers.);

• Mandating the use of current unproven technologies is dangerous and wasteful; such complex technologies must be proven safe before they are implemented. Finally, initial funding for the watch dog agency could come from the $29 billion in stimulus funding in HITECH. Would you knowingly buy any unproven, untested product? Spending first and investigating later is like putting the cart before the horse.

About Patient Privacy Rights:

Patient Privacy Rights is the nation’s leading health privacy watchdog. Our mission is to ensure the right of individuals to control who can see sensitive health information to protect jobs and opportunities. Patient Privacy Rights has over 12,000 members in all 50 states. We lead the bipartisan Coalition for Patient Privacy representing over 10.3 million Americans. See more on the Coalition for Patient Privacy.

CONTACT: Deborah C. Peel, MD

(512)732-0033 OR (512)820-6415

Direct link:

SOURCE:  Patient Privacy Rights

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