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Editor's Note: Patient Safety and Health IT

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The Institute of Medicine's consensus report, Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care, gives a realistic, sobering view of the safety implications of electronic medial/health records (EHRs): the technology seems to hold great promise for safety improvement except for when it doesn't. There are serious problems with usability and transparency; there is little data to prove when and how EHRs improve safety; and there is evidence that use of the technology can lead to error and harm. The report is available from the IOM for purchase or free download as a PDF.

The release of the report prompted commentary from bloggers, reporters, and experts. Writing for Medical Connectivity, William Hyman ends his review of the report on a cautionary note: "Health IT is caught in the corn maze of promise vs. usability and hazards. With quality design and thoughtful implementation, the exit may be found before nightfall. Without it, someone is going to have to call 911." Hyman last wrote for PSQH about aviation and patient safety.

Katherine Hobson's Wall Street Journal blog post attracted a number of thoughtful comments.

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