U.S. Rep seeks HHS status on IOM patient safety recs

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House of Representatives' Small Business Subcommittee on Healthcare and Technology Chairwoman Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) sent a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), inquiring about whether the department has adopted the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) recommendations for improving the safety of health IT.

The IOM report, issued in November 2011, recommended several steps to be taken by HHS and called for greater oversight by the public and private sectors. The secretary was called upon by the IOM to issue a plan within 12 months to minimize patient safety risks associated with health IT and report annually on the progress being made, according to a statement from Ellmers’ office. “The report further recommended that the plan should include a schedule for working with the private sector to assess the impact of health IT on patient safety, and recommended several other steps to help improve the safety of health IT.”

She requested a copy of the secretary’s plan to minimize patient safety risks, a description of health IT-related errors that have resulted in patient risks, injuries and deaths and the status of the development of a mechanism for health IT vendors and users to report health IT-related deaths. 

“Because health IT has the promise to improve healthcare delivery for patients, physicians and other medical professionals, I remain eager to work with you to ensure that health IT is safe, effective and affordable,” Ellmers wrote to Sebelius.