Fed Advisors Ask: Are HIT Systems Safe?

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A workgroup of the HIT Policy Committee, a federal advisory body, will hear testimony on the safety of health information technology during a public hearing on Feb. 25 in Washington.

Witnesses before the committee's Adoption/Certification Workgroup include Ross Koppel, PhD, principal investigator at the Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. Koppel co-wrote a commentary published last March in the Journal of the American Medical Association that contended software vendors place provisions in contracts that protect themselves from harm resulting from faulty software while prohibiting customers from publicly disclosing the problems.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), in October sent a letter to 10 vendors, asking for specific information on how vendors handle complaints about their products, whether their contracts had hold harmless or confidentiality clauses, financial incentives offered to close a sale, and the whether they had settled lawsuits related to EHR and CPOE products in the past 18 months. Grassley in January sent letters to 30 hospitals or delivery systems asking similar questions.

Representatives of Columbia University, Intermountain Healthcare, Marshfield Clinic and the Veterans Health Administration are expected to testify at the workgroup hearing, along with vendors Cerner Corp. and Epic Systems Corp.

For more information on the hearing, accessible via the Web, click here.

--Joseph Goedert

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