Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Joint Commission Should Be Named As Defendant If Patients Harmed by EHR "Outages"

At my recent post "Massive Health IT Outage: But, Of Course, Patient Safety Was Not Compromised" over a massive, outrageous Cerner outage to hospitals contracting their clinical IT via an ASP model (that is, 'software as a service'), I observed:

... The Joint Commission, for example, likely issued its stamp of approval for the affected hospitals, hospitals who had outsourced their crucial medical records functions to an outside party that sometimes went mute.  If someone was injured or died due to this outage, they would not care very much about the supposed advantages.

From the JC's page "About the Joint Commission":

An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

It's time to up the ante regarding this accreditation body, fully aware of health IT risks (e.g., the Dec 2008 Sentinel Events Alert on Health IT) but to date having done little about them.  Through my legal work and my speaking to Plaintiff's attorneys, I am becoming increasingly aware of medical malpractice cases that  involve an EHR or related clinical IT systems at JC-accredited organizations.

In effect, the JC has accredited hospitals whose entire clinical command-and-control structure (the term EHR is an anachronism; these systems are in reality enterprise clinical resource management and clinician workflow control devices) can disappear in the blink of an eye, without warning, raising risk to patients greatly.

If I discover that a patient was harmed or killed as a result of, or related to, this massive recent outage of outsourced medical records/workflow control  infrastructure, I will be recommending that the Joint Commission, including its leadership, which likely certified the hospital(s) involved for safe operations in areas such as Information Management, be named as defendants.

I have informed the JC leadership by email.
-- SS


Anonymous said...

The JC should be held accountable for allowing unsafe hospitals to remain operational while dependant on whimsical management of infrastructure.

I, too, will recommend that the JC and its leaders be named as the negligent parties in wrongful death cases from such infrastructure failure.

Anonymous said...

One side of me wants to break out in laughter and cheer with your last statement to JC ....the other side says dammit US Government .... Get off your asses and start paying attention to the seriousness of incentivizing untested, unregulated EHR...which will likely harm my family. Welcome back, Scot.

mary said...

The bottom line, as always, is about money, not patient care or security of records. It's simply cheaper to outsource tedious data entry work. By far less safe than in house, but cheaper. No one is to blame but inflation. Let's come up with a solution!