On Thursday, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius calling for HHS to study the benefits and cost-effectiveness of health IT systems, with a specific focus on health IT-related medical errors, Healthcare IT News reports.
Ellmers -- chair of the Small Business Subcommittee on Healthcare and Technology and a former nurse -- wrote that her subcommittee held a hearing in June during which physicians testified that the cost and training involved in using health IT systems are "significant burdens for small practices" (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 8/11).
Ellmers also cited recent media reports about health IT systems that failed to catch human mistakes or issued alerts that health care workers overlooked (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/11).
For example, she noted that a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article described an incident in which a computerized IV machine did not catch a pharmacy technician's error and delivered a lethal dose of intravenous sodium chloride to an infant (Healthcare IT News, 8/11).
Ellmers wrote that she hopes that an HHS study of health IT will "consider medical error rates -- both human and technological -- so that all errors can be better assessed and prevented" ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/11).