Lack of Testing and Monitoring of Health IT by Hospitals and Vendors Potentially Jeopardizes Patients: Hospital Performance Is Improving, but More Must Be Done

April 30, 2012

As the nation's hospitals rush to adopt new health information technologies such as computerized medication prescribing systems, the potential for such advances to inadvertently result in harm to patients remains a major challenge for hospitals and technology companies, said Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group, announcing updated information from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey at today's Patient Safety and High Performance Leadership Summit at the National Press Club.

Two years ago, 214 hospitals used Leapfrog's web-based simulation tool to test the ability of their computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems to catch common medication errors, including errors that could lead to fatalities. The hospitals found their systems on average missed half of the routine medication orders and a third of the potentially fatal orders. Nearly all of the hospitals improved their performance after adjusting their systems and protocols and running the simulation a second time.

According to today's announcement, in a similar test conducted over the last nine months of 2011 by 253 hospitals, the missed routine medication orders dropped to slightly more than a third and the fatal orders plummeted to just over one percent.

"This is the kind of improvement that shows what persistent monitoring and adjustment of these systems can achieve, and the hospitals that participate in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and took the test deserve real credit," said Binder. "But hospitals and technology companies haven't finished the job. When CPOE is implemented the right way and hospitals and vendors follow up to monitor and improve it, the result is what every patient hopes for when their life is at stake: the perfect harmony of caregiver and technology working for them." 

The CPOE evaluation tool used by the hospitals is the only one of its kind available today. It is developed by TMIT with guidance from Dr. David Bates, Dr. David Classen, Jane Metzger, and other researchers, with original funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and others. The hospitals that took the test are voluntary respondents to the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, a national patient safety survey that measures and publicly reports on how well patients fare, resources used to care for patients, and management practices that promote safety. The hospitals that participate in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey are considered among the most advanced in the country in their use of information systems.


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