Factor in downtime to ensure safer health IT

LETTER — Posted May 13, 2013

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Regarding “Ways EHRs can lead to unintended safety problems” (Article, Feb. 25): Good article. IT is both a blessing and a curse, but I think there should be mentioned in the article’s sidebar ‑— “11 ways to make health IT safer” — a 12th way:

Develop, implement and practice an “IT downtime” procedure. One must plan for the predictable necessary maintenance times and unpredictable downtime of any IT system. An example of IT downtime, noted in the article, happened in the operating room. This obviously contributed to difficulty in patient treatment and potential for morbidity and mortality.

We often become totally dependent on IT systems when they are implemented, and do not pay attention to the ongoing need of a paper (non-IT) backup protocol. It is a fact of life — computers will crash sometimes.

Be prepared and practiced. This of course applies to the site and to integrated IT systems. Further, one must think broadly beyond the day-to-day functioning of an integrated IT system and also plan downtime protocols for disaster IT preparedness.

Dr. David Turineck, St. Sauveur, Québec, Canada

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn