Resolving Health IT-Related Patient Safety Events

Incorporating Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) events into incident reporting systems as part of identifying areas for improvement in healthcare facilities requires continued effort. In a review of data in over 1.7 million patient safety event reports, researchers found that 64% of patient safety events related to health information technology (HIT) “did not include a resolution.” For those events that were addressed, 55% were resolved with training and education even though those solutions were known to have a “limited impact” on the IT issue. The findings were published in a recent edition of the Journal of Patient Safety and Risk Management.

In an article on the study, HIT Infrastucture shares examples of problem areas that may contribute to failures to resolve patient safety events related to HIT. These include the lack of communication between IT and the Biomedical department, as well as connectivity issues and other vulnerabilities in medical devices. HIT Infrastructure reports that “network connectivity is essential for patient safety.”

Also noted by HIT Infrastructure, “flaws in medical device networking that can lead to misdiagnosis or delay in patient care” has appeared on ECRI Institute’s annual list of health technology hazards. The concern described by ECRI is that “inattention to best practices for implementing networked medical devices and information systems can lead to incorrect or incomplete data transfers and other data communication errors. Such errors can delay diagnosis or treatment or prompt a misdiagnosis, affecting patient safety.”

MLMIC encourages our insured facilities and practitioners to examine incident reporting in their organizations with the additional focus on how technology impacts patient care, and what can be done to continue to improve the overall safety and effectiveness of care in an environment laden with the expanding presence of HIT.