Proposal to include patient safety goals in Meaningful Use criteria met with support

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A new commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found widespread support for the inclusion of the Joint Commission’s 2011 National Patient Safety Goals into Meaningful Use criteria, according to Information Week.

The authors of the commentary, Dean Sittig and Ryan Radecki, MD, say the Joint Commission’s safety targets could be more easily achieved if certain information was added to inpatient electronic health records (EHRs). Medicinal labeling, infection control practices, staff communication, patient identification and mitigation of suicide risks are all part of this year’s hospital quality improvement initiatives as outlined by the Joint Commission.

If these changes were to be more widely incorporated into EHRs, the authors suggest proper clinician training and an integration of the techniques could help maintain patient safety, reports Information Week.

Vice chair of the EHR Association Charlie Jarvis said “The essence of what they’re talking about is where most progressive EHRs are headed today,” as quoted by Information Week. Jarvis further stated that the EHR Association is not against the inclusion of safety data into meaningful use and EHR certification criteria. “We need a standard mechanism for comparing products. As stage one of Meaningful Use has shown, Meaningful Use is a good mechanism, so we should go in that direction.”

Patient safety is being taken seriously across the entire healthcare industry. For example, the $1 billion Partnership for Patients safety program recently announced by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services highlights how patient safety is taking center stage. The initiative aims to save 60,000 lives by reducing the number of hospital-acquired infections by 40 percent within two years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hopes that the program will also help cut associated healthcare costs by $35 billion.