Joint Commission Warns on IT

January 14th, 2009 | Sources: Healthcareitnews

Timed to precede the free-for-all that will surely follow the Big O’s decision to jump start EMR utilization in health care, the JCHAO has issued a safety alert regarding their implementation.

The so-called Sentinel Event Alert warns that health IT implementation projects must begin by scrutinizing existing care processes and “be mindful of the safety risks and preventable adverse events that (they) can create or perpetuate.”

“Technology-related adverse events…may involve errors of either commission or omission. They typically stem from human-machine interfaces or organization/system design (flaws),” according to JCAHO.

The commission pointed to the US Pharmacopeia database which reports that 25% of the nation’s 176,000 medication errors in 2006 involved computer technology as either the cause or a contributing factor.

Of these, mislabeled barcodes on medications, and unclear or confusing computer screen displays were the most common problems.

New health IT can also create inefficiencies or decrease documentation speed if not carefully planned and integrated into existing workflow processes, according to the Alert.

“You have to understand what the worker is going through – whether that worker is a nurse, a doctor, (or) a pharmacist,” Ronald Paulus commented to HealthcareITNews.

“The interplay between technology and humans often gets short shrift,” added the chief technology officer at Geisinger Health System who co-authored the Alert.


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