Grassley Says Bugs In Health IT Software Endangering Patients, Other HIT NewsRadioIowa reports that Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley says hospital officials around the country are seeing bugs in new health information technology software that are putting patients at risk. "'Over the last few months, concerns have been brought to my attention including administrative complications, formatting and usability issues, errors in interoperability,' Grassley says. 'Some health care providers have said the software is producing incorrect medication dosages because it miscalculated body weights by interchanging kilograms and pounds.'" Grassley is asking 32 hospitals for statements on the problem (Kelley, 1/19).
Lawmakers in Ohio, in the meantime, are considering writing a bill that would mandate physicians use a prescription monitoring database to allow officials to track "pill shopping" patients, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "If passed, Ohio would be the second state in the nation (Nevada was first) to have such a requirement, according to national experts. And the proposed law would be broad enough to affect many professions in the medical industry - from emergency room workers who deal with patient drop-ins to urologists who treat chronic conditions." Ohio is one of 34 states that has such a monitoring program - though its use is not mandated - already in place (Tribble, 1/20).
Modern Healthcare reports that officials are debating whether to allow "open source" - or user-changeable and licensable - software in the Veterans Affairs Department's "VistA" clinical software system. The officials met in Tempe, Ariz., last week to talk about open source in the system. "One of the presenters at the 20th VistA Community Meeting Friday was Skip McGaughey, executive director of Open Health Tools, a not-for-profit organization started in 2007. A goal of the organization is to promote cooperation and collaboration wherever possible among healthcare software developers, even those who retain portions of their systems in proprietary code, according to McGaughey." He pushed for open source to provide better care to patients, which he said should be a focus. Others said "(c)ash-strapped providers developing their own systems eventually will find similar ways to get the IT systems they need without paying unreasonable licensing fees, making the licensing issue moot" (Conn, 1/19). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.