Friday, January 27, 2012

Wikipedia page on EHR's: ==Disadvantages== material seems to keep disappearing

It's interesting how most of the information below seems to have a hard time "staying put" on the Wikipedia page for "Electronic Health Record" at

The information is presented in a neutral fashion from impeccable sources. Yet several Wikipedia "editors" take issue with it and, rather then editing it or refuting it (and stating their rationale and sources!), they keep deleting it. (The most recent edit history comments follow this "disappearing" information, at the bottom of this post):


===Software quality and usability deficiencies===
EHR software is unregulated, unlike computer systems used both in the development and production of, and as a part of pharmaceutical products, medical devices, food, blood establishments, tissue establishments, and clinical trials. Other life-critical industries also have strict software validation and testing standards, e.g., Federal Aviation Administration, NASA.

As a result, EHR software quality and usability is often suboptimal. For example, in "A study of an Enterprise Health information System", March 2011, a Medical Informatics researcher at [[University of Sydney]] in Australia found that a major EHR system for Emergency Departments slated for deployment in the public hospitals of [[New South Wales]] has serious deficiencies in software architecture and fit with clinician workflow. These deficiencies make it difficult to use and unreliable in terms of data integrity and loss, in one of the most demanding of clinical environments .

The [[Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society]] (HIMSS), a very large U.S. healthcare IT industry trade group, observed that EHR adoption rates "have been slower than expected in the United States, especially in comparison to other industry sectors and other developed countries. A key reason, aside from initial costs and lost productivity during EMR implementation, is lack of efficiency and usability of EMRs currently available."

Serious reliability and usability problems with the U.S. Department of Defense’s [[AHLTA]] EHR system have been reported to the Congress.

The U.S. [[National Institute of Standards and Technology]] (NIST) issued a Sept. 2011 report on deficient usability of current EHR systems, with recommendations for usability evaluation, testing and validation.

===Unintended adverse consequences===
EHRs can introduce new unintended consequences, compared to paper records, and adverse outcomes, including patient injury and death, according to regualtory and governmental agencies, researchers, and others; for example, in an internal 2009 FDA memorandum of Feb. 23, 2010 obtained and released by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, EHR-related medical errors are categorized as: errors of commission (EOC), errors of omission or transmission (EOT), errors in data analysis (EDA), and incompatibility between multi-vendor software applications or systems (ISMA).

The [[National Health Service]] (NHS) in the UK reports specific examples of EHR-caused patient harms in a 2009 document on guidance on the management of clinical risk relating to the deployment and use of health software, Annex A "Examples of potential harm presented by health software."

Also, in "Research in Ambulatory Patient Safety 2000–2010: A 10-year review", Dec. 2011, the American Medical Association reports:

:While health IT may confer benefits, some research has also suggested that health IT systems can create new issues or exacerbate existing problems. Wachter noted that, “[i]n both professional and lay publications, concerns have been raised that today’s electronic health records promote the copying and pasting of clinical information, instead of its thoughtful analysis; foster a focus on completing computerized checklists and templates rather than detailed probing of the patient’s history, and support less thoughtful diagnostic reasoning and more automatic behavior on the part of caregivers." Research indicates that a great deal depends on the design of the health information technology system, with poorly designed systems contributing to instances of errors (Ash et al). Where user interface designs are cumbersome to use and do not fit into the clinician’s natural work context, some have noted the potential for “cognitive overload,” among other reactions, and ultimately the possibility of increasing errors in data entry and retrieval as well as errors in the process of communication and coordination (Ash et al, Singh et al).

In the U.S., FDA's MAUDE (Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience) database many reported EHR problems, some of which could result in patient injury or death Both FDA (in the 2010 memo referenced above) and the [[Institute of Medicine]] of the National Academies in a 2011 study reveal that EHR-related injuries and deaths are real, but the true extent is likely understated, they report, due to numerous factors impeding diffusion of knowledge such as contractual gag and hold harmless clauses and lack of familiarity by users of where to report EHR-related adverse events (per aforementioned 2009 FDA internal memo). A Medical Informatics researcher in the U.S. has compiled a well-referenced teaching site that covers unintended consequences of EHRs, health IT project difficulties and failure and related issues{{cite web | last=Silverstein| first=Scot| year=2012 | url= | title=Contemporary Issues in Medical Informatics: Common Examples of Healthcare Information Technology Difficulties| publisher=Drexel University |accessdate=2012-01-26}}.

The literature is conflicting on benefits and harms of EHRs, and as in the Jan. 2009 U.S. National Academies study "COMPUTATIONAL TECHNOLOGY FOR EFFECTIVE HEALTH CARE: IMMEDIATE STEPS AND STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS", EHR's ultimate success will depend upon accelerating interdisciplinary research in biomedical informatics, computer science, social science, and health care engineering.

===Regulatory controversy===
FDA's Jeffrey Shuren, MD JD, Director of the [[Center for Devices and Radiological Health]] (CDRH), has explicitly declared EHRs are a medical device. So has the [[Medical Products Agency (Sweden)]]; Swedish law for medical devices is based on EU Directives. In medicine, legal and ethical standards such as the NIH Guidelines for Conduct of Research Involving Human Subjects and the World Medical Association Declaration Of Helsinki restrict introduction of new drugs and medical devices without informed consent, and without extensive preclinical and clinical testing and post-marketing surveillance, especially when risks of the technology are unknown. As in the 2011 U.S. [[Institute of Medicine]] study "Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care", there are calls for formal governmental regulation of the technology.

The edit-history comments are quite interesting, where a poster who uses the ID "Barek" keeps deleting all or most of the information on EHR disadvantages, despite indications the material is impeccably sourced and does not draw its own conclusions. Read from bottom to top:

17:29, 27 January 2012‎ Ohnoitsjamie (talk | contribs)‎ (67,826 bytes) (please discuss on talk page, as you are approaching WP:3RR)

17:28, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,232 bytes) (clarifying that information comes from the cited sources.)

17:26, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,137 bytes) (→Unintended adverse consequences)

17:24, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,151 bytes) (If you have factual disageements, let them be known and document the source of your information.)

17:23, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,137 bytes) (If you have factual disageements, let them be known and document the source of your information.)

17:18, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,122 bytes) (Undid revision 473542684 by Barek (talk). Barek may have a conflict of interest regarding exposure of health IT difficulties.)

17:14, 27 January 2012‎ Barek (talk | contribs)‎ m (67,826 bytes) (Reverted edits by InformaticsMD (talk) to last version by Barek)

17:14, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,122 bytes) (→Regulatory controversy)

17:12, 27 January 2012‎ InformaticsMD (talk | contribs)‎ (76,217 bytes) (The added information is factual, well-referenced from impeccable sources, and does not draw conclusions.)

17:08, 27 January 2012‎ Barek (talk | contribs)‎ (67,826 bytes) (→Disadvantages: restore some content after purging WP:SYNTH material)

17:06, 27 January 2012‎ Ohnoitsjamie (talk | contribs)‎ (65,826 bytes) (rv per WP:SYNTH)

17:01, 27 January 2012‎ (talk)‎ (76,341 bytes) (Undid revision 473539844 by Barek (talk))

16:57, 27 January 2012‎ Barek (talk | contribs)‎ (65,826 bytes) (rv - some of that content is usable - but most is pure WP:SYNTH, attempting to draw conclusions rather than simply stating what's in the sources - requires a total re-write to be encyclopedic)

20:22, 26 January 2012‎ SarekOfVulcan (talk | contribs)‎ (65,058 bytes) (→Unintended Adverse Consequences: actually, remove whole section - BAD HANDWRITING can result in patient injury and death)

20:21, 26 January 2012‎ SarekOfVulcan (talk | contribs)‎ (65,860 bytes) (→Unintended Adverse Consequences: If it's unknown, we don't need to report it. If it's not a RS, we don't need to report its conclusions. And "a researcher says" isn't notable enough to mention without establishing authority in the subject) (undo)

I note that the logically fallacious "Bad handwriting can cause patient injury and death, so remove whole EHR Unintended Adverse Consequences section" and "if it's unknown, we don't need to report it" [regarding the referenced FDA and IOM observations that the true extent of EHR adverse consequences is unknown -- which is on its face a matter critical to public health and policy - ed.], coming from an editor who ironically calls him/herself "Sarek of Vulcan", offers a prime example of how the utopian concept of tapping "community wisdom" can fall flat on its face.

WP:SYNTH is Wikipedia-talk for "Synthesis of published material that advances a position", i.e., "drawing conclusions." Apparently, when it comes to EHR, citing the work of governmental regulatory and healthcare agencies, expert researchers, etc. is "drawing conclusions."

Wikipedia is essentially open to all, including the HIT industry and its pundits.

It is possible that the Wikipedia editors who keep deleting the material could have some sort of conflict of interest. COI could cause them to find easily-verifiable information from impeccable sources on the Wikipedia EHR page (viewed 22924 times in the last 30 days as of this morning) that refutes common cybernetic legends to be "inconvenient." We've certainly seen that type of person before (link).

This affair may also be another example of the "anechoic effect", the notion we discuss often on this blog that certain topics in medicine and health care 'just aren't talked about', in action.

The 'disadvantages' material, revised, will be re-posted again soon, after my being blocked (for 'reverting', i.e., restoring the material three times in 24 hrs.) expires tomorrow. It will be revised to have as neutral a tone as possible, with exact page numbers where possible, in accordance with written Wikipedia examples. If the additions still disappear, that will be revelatory.

-- SS


Anonymous said...

Well, what's the verdict?

Anonymous said...

Well, what's the verdict?