Karen DeSalvo, M.D., the National Coordinator for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote a letter to The Boston Globe, in response to a controversial front-page article the paper ran on electronic medical records (EMRs) and patient safety.
The feature article reported on how there is not mandatory reporting required from the government on injuries, deaths, and unsafe conditions from EMRs. It said EMRs are “complex, balky, unwieldy, and error-prone computer systems," and often, the cause of adverse events and medication errors. The article, which painted the industry and the Office of the National Coordinator in a negative tone, did not win any support from Dr. DeSalvo.
In her letter to the editor, DeSalvo said she was disappointed that the article did not include any successful iterations of EMRs being used to reduce medication errors and adverse events. "A fully electronic health system can help identify and prevent potential medical errors. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has taken steps to address the safe use and implementation of electronic health records, including sponsoring the Institute of Medicine report referenced in the story," she wrote.
DeSalvo noted the upcoming creation of the Health IT Safety Center, a joint effort between ONC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She says voluntary reporting of medical errors, through this center, has been applauded by various health industry stakeholders.