Bad Health IT ("BHIT") is health IT that is ill-suited to purpose, hard to use, unreliable, loses data or provides incorrect data, is difficult and/or prohibitively expensive to customize to the needs of different medical specialists and subspecialists, causes cognitive overload, slows rather than facilitates users, lacks appropriate alerts, creates the need for hypervigilance (i.e., towards avoiding IT-related mishaps) that increases stress, is lacking in security, compromises patient privacy or otherwise demonstrates suboptimal design and/or implementation.
Health IT is unregulated, and Bad Health IT results in patient injuries and deaths. This is unarguable from the data cited in this post and related posts I've linked to. The levels of harm are unknown.
At my April 9, 2014 post "FDA on health IT risk: "We don't know the magnitude of the risk, and what we do know is the tip of the iceberg, but health IT is of 'sufficiently low risk' that we don't need to regulate it" (http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2014/04/fda-on-health-it-risk-reckless-or.html) I observed how the FDA bent over backwards to avoid regulating Electronic Medical Records systems and other healthcare IT systems:
To recap that post:
Out of one side of their mouth FDA wrote this:
... products with health management heath IT functions, includes software for health information and data management, medication management, provider order entry, knowledge management, electronic access to clinical results and most clinical decision support software.
Products with health management health IT functions are of sufficiently low risk and thus, [even] if they meet the statutory definition of a medical device, FDA does not intend to focus its oversight on them.
While out of the side of their mouth that was not intended for public viewing, discovered by investigative reporter Fred Schulte, they wrote this:
Note that everyone who needs medical care (which is. essentially, everyone) is increasingly exposed to these electronic products with health management heath IT functions, against their will and without any informed consent processes. The only people exposed to E-cigarettes are those who willingly buy and consume them.
With E-cigarettes, however:
CBS/AP April 24, 2014
FDA: Ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors
WASHINGTON -- The federal government wants to ban sales of electronic cigarettes to minors and require health warning labels and approval for new products under regulations being proposed by the Food and Drug Administration.
Wonderful. How thoughtful. (E-cigarettes are plastic or metal tubes, usually the size of a cigarette, that heat a liquid nicotine solution instead of burning tobacco. That creates vapor that users inhale.)
While the proposal being issued Thursday won't immediately mean changes for the popular devices, the move is aimed at eventually taming the fast-growing e-cigarette industry.
The agency said the proposal sets a foundation for regulating the products but the rules don't immediately ban the wide array of flavors of e-cigarettes, curb marketing in places like TV or set product standards.
Any further rules "will have to be grounded in our growing body of knowledge and understanding about the use of e-cigarettes and their potential health risks or public health benefits," Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said.
(Perhaps the E-cigarette industry hasn't figured out who to pay off yet?)
... "By being able to regulate e-cigarettes, we'll get a lot more information about what's in them, how they're made and we're already studying e-cigarettes in terms of how they're being used and what are their implications for health," Hamburg told CBS News.
"At the present time, when we can't regulate cigarettes, it's like they wild, wild West" she said. "Companies can do anything they want. They can market in ways that they want. ... Unless they make a therapeutic claim that it is a product for actual cessation of nicotine use, we can't regulate them. If they make a therapeutic claim, we can regulate them as a medical product."
The "Wild, wild west" is a perfect descriptor of the health IT market. And claims of benefits? How about some 'Words that Work?' (http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2013/10/words-that-work-singing-only-positive.html)
Hamburg stressed to CBS News that, "Until we have the authority to regulate e-cigarettes, we cannot provide the information that the American public wants about the relative risk and safety of these products. ... We cannot put in place certain restrictions that might be appropriate with respect to how the products are made, the kind of flavorings, the kind of marketing, etc. So we see this as really a crucial first step."
The health IT industry has special accommodations in that regard that the E-cigarette company lawyers need to closely examine.
Smokers like e-cigarettes because the nicotine-infused vapor looks like smoke but doesn't contain the thousands of chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes. Some smokers use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking tobacco, or to cut down. However, there's not much scientific evidence showing e-cigarettes help smokers quit or smoke less, and it's unclear how safe they are.
It's undeniably unclear how safe clinical IT devices are, either. The ECRI Institute, for instance, found 171 mishaps in 9 weeks at 36 hospitals voluntarily reported, leaving 8 patients harmed and possibly three of them dead. (A likely far more than serous problem than GM cars with defective ignitions that killed ~13 in a decade...) The FDA found many injuries and several deaths in their own self-admitted limited dataset as well. (See FDA Internal Memo on HIT risk at http://hcrenewal.blogspot.com/2010/08/smoking-gun-internal-fda-memorandum-of.html).
... Companies also will be required to submit applications for premarket review within two years. As long as an e-cigarette maker has submitted the application, the FDA said it will allow the products to stay on the market while they are being reviewed. That would mean companies would have to submit an application for all e-cigarettes now being sold.
DISCLAIMER: I neither use tobacco products in any form nor E-cigarettes, never did, and have no conflicts of interest of any kind with either the tobacco or E-cigarette industries.