On July 2, The Joint Commission announced that it received a sole source contract from the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to address one of the key recommendations made in the Institute of Medicine report, “Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care.” The report called for an independent entity to help identify unsafe health information technology (health IT) conditions that have been associated with serious patient safety events, develop a process for preventing health IT-related adverse events, and educate the health care field and others about this work. The primary objective of the contract is to establish a credible and meaningful process that can be used to identify, understand, disseminate and eventually help prevent health IT-related sentinel events that may cause serious or fatal harm to patients. The results of the work will inform ONC’s “Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan” to use health IT to make care safer and continuously improve the safety of health IT. Health IT devices include hardware or software that is used to electronically create, maintain, analyze, store, or receive information to aid in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The definition excludes integral parts of implantable devices and medical equipment.
As a component of its accreditation services, The Joint Commission’s Office of Quality Monitoring (OQM) regularly receives reports of sentinel events, including health IT-related sentinel events, from accredited organizations. The OQM staff routinely works with organizations to review their root cause analyses and aggregates data to increase public knowledge about sentinel events, their causes, and strategies for prevention. To accomplish the goals of the contract, The Joint Commission will enhance the use of its de-identified data warehouse of the Sentinel Event Database, and its associated reporting process, as permitted by The Joint Commission’s contract with accredited health care organizations. Only the de-identified data warehouse will be used to fulfill the terms of the contract and no identifiable data will be shared or even accessed at any point. The de-identification of the data will involve removing any identifiable reference to the practitioner, staff, organization, and patient (under HIPAA standards). Read the entire news release. (Contact: Gerry Castro, email@example.com)