Electronic medical record (EMR) systems have enabled healthcare providers to collect detailed patient information from the primary care domain. At the same time, longitudinal data from EMRs are increasingly combined with biorepositories to generate personalized clinical decision support protocols. Emerging policies encourage investigators to disseminate such data in a deidentified form for reuse and collaboration, but organizations are hesitant to do so because they fear such actions will jeopardize patient privacy. In particular, there are concerns that residual demographic and clinical features could be exploited for reidentification purposes. Various approaches have been developed to anonymize clinical data, but they neglect temporal information and are, thus, insufficient for emerging biomedical research paradigms. This paper proposes a novel approach to share patient-specific longitudinal data that offers robust privacy guarantees, while preserving data utility for many biomedical investigations. Our approach aggregates temporal and diagnostic information using heuristics inspired from sequence alignment and clustering methods. We demonstrate that the proposed approach can generate anonymized data that permit effective biomedical analysis using several patient cohorts derived from the EMR system of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Anonymization; data privacy; electronic medical records (EMRs); longitudinal data
Global advances in patient safety have been hampered by the lack of a uniform classification of patient safety concepts. This is a significant barrier to developing strategies to reduce risk, performing evidence-based research and evaluating existing healthcare policies relevant to patient safety. Since 2005, the World Health Organization's World Alliance for Patient Safety has undertaken the Project to Develop an International Classification for Patient Safety (ICPS) to devise a classification which transforms patient safety information collected from disparate systems into a common format to facilitate aggregation, analysis and learning across disciplines, borders and time. A drafting group, comprised of experts from the fields of patient safety, classification theory, health informatics, consumer/patient advocacy, law and medicine, identified and defined key patient safety concepts and developed an internationally agreed conceptual framework for the ICPS based upon existing patient safety classifications. The conceptual framework was iteratively improved through technical expert meetings and a two-stage web-based modified Delphi survey of over 250 international experts. This work culminated in a conceptual framework consisting of ten high level classes: incident type, patient outcomes, patient characteristics, incident characteristics, contributing factors/hazards, organizational outcomes, detection, mitigating factors, ameliorating actions and actions taken to reduce risk. While the framework for the ICPS is in place, several challenges remain. Concepts need to be defined, guidance for using the classification needs to be provided, and further real-world testing needs to occur to progressively refine the ICPS to ensure it is fit for purpose.
classification; patient safety; incident; conceptual framework
A principal goal of computerisation of medical records is to join up care
services for patients, so that their records can follow them wherever they go
and thereby reduce delays, duplications, risks and errors, and costs. Healthcare
records are increasingly being stored electronically, which has created the
necessary conditions for them to be readily sharable. However simply driving the
implementation of electronic medical records is not sufficient, as recent
developments have demonstrated (1): there remain significant obstacles.
The three main obstacles relate to (a) record accessibility (knowing where event
records are and being able to access them), (b) maintaining privacy (ensuring
that only those authorised by the patient can access and extract meaning from
the records) and (c) assuring the functionality of the shared information
(ensuring that the records can be shared non-proprietorially across platforms
without loss of meaning, and that their authenticity and trustworthiness are
demonstrable). These constitute a set of issues that need new thinking, since
existing systems are struggling to deliver them.
The solution to this puzzle lies in three main parts. Clearly there is only one
environment suited to such widespread sharing, which is the World Wide Web, so
this is the communications basis. Part one requires that a sharable synoptic
record is created for each care event and stored in standard web-format and in
readily accessible locations, on ‘the web’ or in ‘the
cloud’. To maintain privacy these publicly-accessible records must be
suitably protected either stripped of identifiers (names, addresses, dates,
places etc.) and/or encrypted: either way the record must be tagged with a tag
that means nothing to anyone, but serves to identify and authenticate a specific
record when retrieved. For ease of retrieval patients must hold an index of care
events, records and web locations (plus any associated information for each such
as encryption keys, context etc.). For added security, as well as for
trustworthiness, a method of verifying authenticity, integrity and authorship is
required, which can be provided using a public key infrastructure (PKI) for
cryptography (2). The second part of the solution is to give control over record
access and sharing to the patient (or their identified representative), enabling
them to authorise access by providing the index and access keys to their
records. This can be done using a token (fe.g. smart card) or a secure online
index which holds these details: this serves to relieve the formal record keeper
of responsibility for external access control and privacy (internal access
control and privacy can remain an institutional responsibility). The third part
of the solution is to process the content of the stored records such that there
is a ‘plain English’ copy, as well as an electronic copy which is
coded and marked up using XML tags for each data element to signify
‘type’ (e.g. administrative, financial, operational, clinical
etc.) and sub-types (e.g. diagnosis, medication, procedure,
investigation result etc.). This ensures that the recipient can always read the
data using a basic browser, but can readily manipulate and re-arrange the data
for display and storage if they have a more sophisticated installation.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been at the vanguard of information technology (IT) and use of comprehensive electronic health records. Despite the widespread use of health IT in the VA, there are still a variety of key questions that need to be answered in order to maximize the utility of IT to improve patient access to quality services. This paper summarizes the potential of IT to enhance healthcare access, key gaps in current evidence linking IT and access, and methodologic challenges for related research. We also highlight four key issues to be addressed when implementing and evaluating the impact of IT interventions on improving access to quality care: 1) Understanding broader needs/perceptions of the Veteran population and their caregivers regarding use of IT to access healthcare services and related information. 2) Understanding individual provider/clinician needs/perceptions regarding use of IT for patient access to healthcare. 3) System/Organizational issues within the VA and other organizations related to the use of IT to improve access. 4) IT integration and information flow with non-VA entities. While the VA is used as an example, the issues are salient for healthcare systems that are beginning to take advantage of IT solutions.
access to care; medical informatics; veterans
Background. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are an important patient safety issue, and safety climate is an important organizational factor. This study explores perceptions of infection preventionists (IPs) and quality directors (QDs) regarding two safety microclimates, Senior Management Engagement (SME) and Leadership on Patient Safety (LOPS), across California hospitals. Methods. This was an analysis of two cross-sectional surveys. We conducted Wilcoxon signed-rank test, univariate analyses, and a multivariate ordinary least square regression. Results. There were 322 eligible hospitals; 149 hospitals (46.3%) responded to both surveys. The IP response rate was 59%, and the QD response rate was 79.5%. We found IPs perceived SME more positively than did QDs (21.4 vs. 20.4, P < 0.01). No setting characteristics predicted variation in perceptions. Presence of an independent budget predicted more positive perceptions of microclimates across personnel types (P < 0.01). Conclusions. Differences in perceptions continue to exist between essential leaders in acute health care settings which could have critical effects on outcomes such as HAIs. Having an independent budget for the infection prevention and control department may enhance the overall safety climate and in turn patient care.
Clinical decision support (CDS) can improve safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care, especially when implemented in computerized provider order entry (CPOE) applications. Medication-related decision support logic forms a large component of the CDS logic in any CPOE system. However, organizations wishing to implement CDS must either purchase the computable clinical content or develop it themselves. Content provided by vendors does not always meet local expectations. Most organizations lack the resources to customize the clinical content and the expertise to implement it effectively. In this paper, we describe the recommendations of a national expert panel on two basic medication-related CDS areas, specifically, drug-drug interaction (DDI) checking and duplicate therapy checking. The goals of this study were to define a starter set of medication-related alerts that healthcare organizations can implement in their clinical information systems. We also draw on the experiences of diverse institutions to highlight the realities of implementing medication decision support. These findings represent the experiences of institutions with a long history in the domain of medication decision support, and the hope is that this guidance may improve the feasibility and efficiency CDS adoption across healthcare settings.
Clinical decision support; decision support systems; CDS; medication alerting; drug-drug interactions; therapeutic duplication; medical informatics
To examine the relationship between organizational leadership for patient safety and five types of learning from patient safety events (PSEs).
Forty-nine general acute care hospitals in Ontario, Canada.
A nonexperimental design using cross-sectional surveys of hospital patient safety officers (PSOs) and patient care managers (PCMs). PSOs provided data on organization-level learning from (a) minor events, (b) moderate events, (c) major near misses, (d) major event analysis, and (e) major event dissemination/communication. PCMs provided data on organizational leadership (formal and informal) for patient safety.
Hospitals were the unit of analysis. Seemingly unrelated regression was used to examine the influence of formal and informal leadership for safety on the five types of learning from PSEs. The interaction between leadership and hospital size was also examined.
Formal organizational leadership for patient safety is an important predictor of learning from minor, moderate, and major near-miss events, and major event dissemination. This relationship is significantly stronger for small hospitals (<100 beds).
We find support for the relationship between patient safety leadership and patient safety behaviors such as learning from safety events. Formal leadership support for safety is of particular importance in small organizations where the economic burden of safety programs is disproportionately large and formal leadership is closer to the front lines.
Patient safety; safety culture; leadership; learning from safety events/incidents
The only national drug abuse prevention delivery system that supports the rapid diffusion of new prevention strategies and includes uniform training and credentialing of instructors who are monitored for quality implementation of prevention programming is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education network (D.A.R.E.) linking community law enforcement to schools. Analysis of the organizational structure and function of D.A.R.E. provides an understanding of the essential parameters of this successful delivery system that can be used in the development of other types of national infrastructures for community-based prevention services. Information regarding organizational structure and function around funding issues, training, quality control and community relationships was gathered through telephone surveys with 50 state D.A.R.E. coordinators (including two major cities), focus groups with local D.A.R.E. officers and mentors, and interviews with national D.A.R.E. office staff.
The surveys helped identify several strengths inherent in the D.A.R.E. program necessary for building a prevention infrastructure, including a well-defined organizational focus (D.A.R.E. America), uniform training and means for rapid dissemination (through its organized training structure), continuing education mechanisms (through the state and national conference and website), mechanisms for program monitoring and fidelity of implementation (formal and informal), branding and, for several states, predictable and consistent financing. Weaknesses of the program as currently structured include unstable funding and the failure to incorporate components for the continual upgrading of curricula reflecting research evidence and "principles of prevention".
The D.A.R.E. organization and service delivery network provides a framework for the rapid dissemination of evidence-based prevention strategies. The major strength of D.A.R.E. is its natural affiliation to local law enforcement agencies through state coordinators. Through these affiliations, it has been possible for D.A.R.E. to become established nationally within a few years and internationally within a decade. Understanding how this structure developed and currently functions provides insights into how other such delivery systems could be developed.
Background: Despite the emphasis on patient safety in health care, few organizations have evaluated the extent to which safety is a strategic priority or their culture supports patient safety. In response to the Institute of Medicine's report and to an organizational commitment to patient safety, we conducted a systematic assessment of safety at the Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH) and, from this, developed a strategic plan to improve safety. The specific aims of this study were to evaluate the extent to which the culture supports patient safety at JHH and the extent to which safety is a strategic priority.
Methods: During July and August 2001 we implemented two surveys in disparate populations to assess patient safety. The Safety Climate Scale (SCS) was administered to a sample of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other ICU staff. SCS assesses perceptions of a strong and proactive organizational commitment to patient safety. The second survey instrument, called Strategies for Leadership (SLS), evaluated the extent to which safety was a strategic priority for the organization. This survey was administered to clinical and administrative leaders.
Results: We received 395 completed SCS surveys from 82% of the departments and 86% of the nursing units. Staff perceived that supervisors had a greater commitment to safety than senior leaders. Nurses had higher scores than physicians for perceptions of safety. Twenty three completed SLS surveys were received from 77% of the JHH Patient Safety Committee members and 50% of the JHH Management Committee members. Management Committee responses were more positive than Patient Safety Committee, indicating that management perceived safety efforts to be further developed. Strategic planning received the lowest scores from both committees.
Conclusions: We believe this is one of the first large scale efforts to measure institutional culture of safety and then design improvements in health care. The survey results suggest that strategic planning of patient safety needs enhancement. Several efforts to improve our culture of safety were initiated based on these results, which should lead to measurable improvements in patient safety.
Healthcare organizations across the country are searching for methods to address escalating healthcare costs. One strategy is to leverage resources across affiliated but independent organizations. This approach is common in other industries; yet, protecting confidential patient information is unique to the healthcare industry. Guaranteed protection of patient confidentiality is a critical step in any inter-organizational strategy. Because of the need to leverage resources, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern) and its affiliates initiated a cross-institutional effort to address information security and confidentiality issues.
Medication errors in hospitals are a worldwide concern. The World Health Organization has recommended the implementation of basic applications in healthcare systems to improve medication safety, but it is largely unknown whether these recommendations are adhered to by hospitals. We assessed the presence of core medication safety practices in Saudi Arabian hospitals.
We developed and validated a survey to assess medication safety practices in hospitals. Major headings included Look-Alike Sound-Alike (LASA) medications, control of concentrated electrolyte solutions, transitions in care, information technology, drug information and other medication safety practices. Trained pharmacists visited samples of hospitals from all regions of Saudi Arabia.
Seventy-eight hospitals were surveyed. Only 30% of the hospitals had a medication safety committee and 9% of hospitals had a medication safety officer. Only 33% of hospitals had a list of LASA medications and 50% had a list of error-prone abbreviations. Concentrated electrolytes were available in floor stock in 60% of the hospitals. No hospital involved pharmacists in obtaining medication histories and only 37% of the hospitals provided a medication list to the patients at discharge. While 61% of hospitals used a computer system in their pharmacy to enter prescriptions, only 29% of these hospitals required entry of patient’s allergies before entering a drug order.
Core practices to improve medication safety were not implemented in many hospitals in Saudi Arabia. In developing countries, an effort must be made at the national level to increase the adoption of such practices.
Medication safety; Hospitals; Saudi Arabia
Analysis of health care service models requires the collection and evaluation of basic practice characterization data. Practice-based research networks (PBRNs) provide a framework for gathering data useful in characterizing clinical practice.
To describe preliminary secondary school setting practice data from the Athletic Training Practice-Based Research Network (AT-PBRN).
Secondary school athletic training facilities within the AT-PBRN.
Patients or Other Participants
Clinicians (n = 22) and their patients (n = 2523) from the AT-PBRN.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
A Web-based survey was used to obtain data on clinical practice site and clinician characteristics. Patient and practice characteristics were obtained via deidentified electronic medical record data collected between September 1, 2009, and April 1, 2011.
Descriptive data regarding the clinician and CPS practice characteristics are reported as percentages and frequencies. Descriptive analysis of patient encounters and practice characteristic data was performed, with the percentages and frequencies of the type of injuries recorded at initial evaluation, type of treatment received at initial evaluation, daily treatment, and daily sign-in procedures.
The AT-PBRN had secondary school sites in 7 states, and most athletic trainers at those sites (78.2%) had less than 5 years of experience. The secondary school sites within the AT-PBRN documented 2523 patients treated across 3140 encounters. Patients most frequently sought care for a current injury (61.3%), followed by preventive services (24.0%), and new injuries (14.7%). The most common diagnoses were ankle sprain/strain (17.9%), hip sprain/strain (12.5%), concussion (12.0%), and knee pain (2.5%). The most frequent procedures were athletic trainer evaluation (53.9%), hot- or cold-pack application (26.0%), strapping (10.3%), and therapeutic exercise (5.7%). The median number of treatments per injury was 3 (interquartile range = 2, 4; range = 2–19).
These preliminary data describe services provided by clinicians within the AT-PBRN and demonstrate the usefulness of the PBRN model for obtaining such data.
PBRN; adolescents; practice characteristics; professional practice; ICD-9; CPT
Background: It is important for healthcare providers to report safety related events, but little attention has been paid to how the definition and classification of events affects a hospital's ability to learn from its experience.
Objectives: To examine how the definition and classification of safety related events influences key organizational routines for gathering information, allocating incentives, and analyzing event reporting data.
Methods: In semi-structured interviews, professional staff and administrators in a tertiary care teaching hospital and its pharmacy were asked to describe the existing programs designed to monitor medication safety, including the reporting systems. With a focus primarily on the pharmacy staff, interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative research methods.
Results: Eighty six interviews were conducted, including 36 in the hospital pharmacy. Examples are presented which show that: (1) the definition of an event could lead to under-reporting; (2) the classification of a medication error into alternative categories can influence the perceived incentives and disincentives for incident reporting; (3) event classification can enhance or impede organizational routines for data analysis and learning; and (4) routines that promote organizational learning within the pharmacy can reduce the flow of medication error data to the hospital.
Discussion: These findings from one hospital raise important practical and research questions about how reporting systems are influenced by the definition and classification of safety related events. By understanding more clearly how hospitals define and classify their experience, we may improve our capacity to learn and ultimately improve patient safety.
St. John's wort (SJW), used to treat depression, is popular in the USA, Canada, and parts of Europe. However, there are documented interactions between SJW and prescription medications including warfarin, cyclosporine, indinavir, and oral contraceptives. One source of information about these safety considerations is the product label. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinically relevant safety information included on labeling in a nationally representative sample of SJW products from the USA.
Eight clinically relevant safety issues were identified: drug interactions (SJW-HIV medications, SJW-immunosupressants, SJW-oral contraceptives, and SJW-warfarin), contraindications (bipolar disorder), therapeutic duplication (antidepressants), and general considerations (phototoxicity and advice to consult a healthcare professional (HCP)). A list of SJW products was identified to assess their labels. Percentages and totals were used to present findings.
Of the seventy-four products evaluated, no product label provided information for all 8 evaluation criteria. Three products (4.1%) provided information on 7 of the 8 criteria. Four products provided no safety information whatsoever. Percentage of products with label information was: SJW-HIV (8.1%), SJW-immunosupressants (5.4%), SJW-OCPs (8.1%), SJW-warfarin (5.4%), bipolar (1.4%), antidepressants (23.0%), phototoxicity (51.4%), and consult HCP (87.8%). Other safety-related information on labels included warnings about pregnancy (74.3%), lactation (64.9%), discontinue if adverse reaction (23.0%), and not for use in patients under 18 years old (13.5%). The average number of a priori safety issues included on a product label was 1.91 (range 0–8) for 23.9% completeness.
The vast majority of SJW products fail to adequately address clinically relevant safety issues on their labeling. A few products do provide an acceptable amount of information on clinically relevant safety issues which could enhance the quality of counseling by HCPs and health store clerks. HCPs and consumers may benefit if the FDA re-examined labeling requirements for dietary supplements.
Duplication of medical testing results in a financial burden to the healthcare system. Authors undertook a retrospective review of duplicate testing on patients receiving coordinated care across two institutions, each with its own electronic medical record system. In order to determine whether duplicate testing occurred and if such testing was clinically indicated, authors analyzed records of 85 patients transferred from one site to the other between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007. Duplication of testing (repeat within 12 hours) was found in 32% of the cases examined; 20% of cases had at least one duplicate test not clinically indicated. While previous studies document that inaccessibility of paper records leads to duplicate testing when patients are transferred between care facilities, the current study suggests that incomplete electronic record transfer among incompatible electronic medical record systems can also lead to potentially costly duplicate testing behaviors. The authors believe that interoperable systems with integrated decision support could assist in minimizing duplication of testing at time of patient transfers.
Case reports and observational studies continue to report adverse events from medical errors. However, despite considerable attention to patient safety in the popular media, this topic is not a regular component of medical education, and much research needs to be carried out to understand the causes, consequences, and prevention of healthcare-related adverse events during neonatal intensive care. To address the knowledge gaps and to formulate a research and educational agenda in neonatology, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) invited a panel of experts to a workshop in August 2010. Patient safety issues discussed were: the reasons for errors, including systems design, working conditions, and worker fatigue; a need to develop a “culture” of patient safety; the role of electronic medical records, information technology, and simulators in reducing errors; error disclosure practices; medico-legal concerns; and educational needs. Specific neonatology-related topics discussed were: errors during resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and performance of invasive procedures; medication errors including those associated with milk feedings; diagnostic errors; and misidentification of patients. This article provides an executive summary of the workshop.
In order to conduct good implementation science research, it will be necessary to recruit and obtain good cooperation and comprehensive information from complete medical practice organizations. The goal of this paper is to report an effective example of such a recruitment effort for a study of the organizational aspects of depression care quality.
There were 41 medical groups in the Minnesota region that were eligible for participation in the study because they had sufficient numbers of patients with depression. We documented the steps required to both recruit their participation in this study and obtain their completion of two questionnaire surveys and two telephone interviews.
All 41 medical groups agreed to participate and consented to our use of confidential data about their care quality. In addition, all 82 medical directors and quality improvement coordinators completed the necessary questionnaires and interviews. The key factors explaining this success can be summarized as the seven R's: Relationships, Reputation, Requirements, Rewards, Reciprocity, Resolution, and Respect.
While all studies will not have all of these factors in such good alignment, attention to them may be important to other efforts to add to our knowledge of implementation science.
While medications can improve patients’ health, the process of prescribing them is complex and error prone, and medication errors cause many preventable injuries. Computer provider order entry (CPOE) with clinical decision support (CDS), can improve patient safety and lower medication-related costs.
To realize the medication-related benefits of CDS within CPOE, one must overcome significant challenges. Healthcare organizations implementing CPOE must understand what classes of CDS their CPOE systems can support, assure that clinical knowledge underlying their CDS systems is reasonable, and appropriately represent electronic patient data. These issues often influence to what extent an institution will succeed with its CPOE implementation and achieve its desired goals.
Medication-related decision support is probably best introduced into healthcare organizations in two stages, basic and advanced. Basic decision support includes drug-allergy checking, basic dosing guidance, formulary decision support, duplicate therapy checking, and drug–drug interaction checking. Advanced decision support includes dosing support for renal insufficiency and geriatric patients, guidance for medication-related laboratory testing, drug-pregnancy checking, and drug–disease contraindication checking. In this paper, the authors outline some of the challenges associated with both basic and advanced decision support and discuss how those challenges might be addressed. The authors conclude with summary recommendations for delivering effective medication-related clinical decision support addressed to healthcare organizations, application and knowledge base vendors, policy makers, and researchers.
Objective: Five years ago the Institute of Medicine recommended improving patient safety by addressing organizational cultural issues. Since then, surveys measuring a patient safety climate considered predictive of health outcomes have begun to emerge. This paper compares the general characteristics, dimensions covered, psychometrics performed, and uses in studies of patient safety climate surveys.
Methods: Systematic literature review.
Results: Nine surveys were found that measured the patient safety climate of an organization. All used Likert scales, mostly to measure attitudes of individuals. Nearly all covered five common dimensions of patient safety climate: leadership, policies and procedures, staffing, communication, and reporting. The strength of psychometric testing varied. While all had been used to compare units within or between hospitals, only one had explored the association between organizational climate and patient outcomes.
Conclusions: Patient safety climate surveys vary considerably. Achievement of a culture conducive to patient safety may be an admirable goal in its own right, but more effort should be expended on understanding the relationship between measures of patient safety climate and patient outcomes.
Insight into the frequency and seriousness of potentially unsafe situations may be the first step towards improving patient safety. Most patient safety attention has been paid to patient safety in hospitals. However, in many countries, patients receive most of their healthcare in primary care settings. There is little concrete information about patient safety in primary care in the Netherlands. The overall aim of this study was to provide insight into the current patient safety issues in Dutch general practices, out-of-hours primary care centres, general dental practices, midwifery practices, and allied healthcare practices. The objectives of this study are: to determine the frequency, type, impact, and causes of incidents found in the records of primary care patients; to determine the type, impact, and causes of incidents reported by Dutch healthcare professionals; and to provide insight into patient safety management in primary care practices.
Design and methods
The study consists of three parts: a retrospective patient record study of 1,000 records per practice type was conducted to determine the frequency, type, impact, and causes of incidents found in the records of primary care patients (objective one); a prospective component concerns an incident-reporting study in each of the participating practices, during two successive weeks, to determine the type, impact, and causes of incidents reported by Dutch healthcare professionals (objective two); to provide insight into patient safety management in Dutch primary care practices (objective three), we surveyed organizational and cultural items relating to patient safety. We analysed the incidents found in the retrospective patient record study and the prospective incident-reporting study by type of incident, causes (Eindhoven Classification Model), actual harm (severity-of-outcome domain of the International Taxonomy of Medical Errors in Primary Care), and probability of severe harm or death.
To estimate the frequency of incidents was difficult. Much depended on the accuracy of the patient records and the professionals' consensus about which types of adverse events have to be recognized as incidents.
The growth of the number of Internet users leads to an increasing demand for information quality control, especially when information is not oriented to healthcare professionals but to patients and/or general citizens. Even if several surveys have been done to evaluate the kind of access to medical information the relevance of this phenomenon in the families does not seems adequately investigated. In fact navigators (see Oct.98 GVU survey) are mainly (70%) without sons and access to medical information over fifty. The goal of this research is to evaluate the number and characteristics of Italian parents that could be interested to medical webs. This study is the first step to the main goal of evaluating paediatrics information quality provided by Web sites aimed to educate parents.
The survey, done in two Italian cities, involved 284 families having access to a Internet, and responding to questionnaires distributed and collected (May 24th to June 10th) mainly in primary schools. Parents were asked to answer about the frequency and location of access, whether they visited medical sites and the usefulness of them. To evaluate its readability and to select the size of the sample, this questionnaire was tested with 79 parents, during a one week pilot phase carried out in the outpatient paediatrics department of Policlinico A. Gemelli, Rome. To respect data privacy, questions about sensible personal data were not included and it was filled in an anonymous way. RESULTS: The characteristics of the sample are the following ones.-41% have higher school education and 56% are graduated. -65% are employees and 28% are free-lance. -the average age for the fathers is 42.8 years (29 to 58) and for the mothers is 39.7 years (28 to 53); -48% are mothers and 52% are fathers;-the majority of families (53%) has 2 sons and 31% of them has 1 son. The usage of internet shows the following Results:
10% connect mainly from both office and home, 56% connect mainly from the office, and 29% mainly from home
25% has a daily connection, 34% more than once a week, 17% less than once a week and 16% once a month
35% has visited medical sites (40% of the fathers and 31% of the mothers) and, among them, 56% found medical sites useful and 26% very useful
The usage of Internet at home is less frequent than from the office: this shows the minor diffusion of Internet in the Italian homes, probably because of the high communication costs. A very interesting result is the high number of internet users accessing medical sites (about one third); furthermore the great majority of the parents navigating through medical sites find this information useful or very useful. Another interesting results is the fact that our survey shows a greater interest in medical sites from fathers with respect to mothers (GVU survey stated a greater and more frequent access of women to medical information).
Pediatrics; Parents; Internet; Medical Information
The authors define a DNA biobank as a repository of genetic information correlated with patient medical records. DNA biobanks may assist in the research and identification of genetic factors influencing disease and drug interactions, but may raise ethical issues. How healthcare providers perceive DNA biobanks is unknown.
To determine how useful healthcare professionals believe DNA biobanks will be and whether these attitudes differ between private and socialized healthcare systems.
The authors surveyed 200 healthcare professionals, including research and non-research focused doctors, nurses and other staff from medical centers and independent practice in both the United States and Scotland. The survey included fifteen items evaluated for general receptiveness toward biobanks, presumed usefulness of biobanks and perceived attitudes in recruiting patients for a biobank.
A total of 81 (45%) of 179 eligible participants responded: 41 from the U.S. and 40 from Scotland. Of these respondents, most (70%) were from academic centers.
Results indicate that there is a broadly favorable attitude in both locations toward the creation of a DNA biobank (83%) and its perceived benefit (75%). This enthusiasm is tempered in Scotland when respondents evaluated their comfort in consenting patients for entry into a biobank; 16 of 40 respondents (40%) were uncomfortable doing so, representing a significant difference from those in the U.S. (p=0.001).
Despite systematic differences in healthcare practice between the U.S. and Scotland, health care professionals in both nations believe DNA biobanks will be useful in curing disease. This finding appears to support further development of such a research tool.
On July 23rd, 2010 a revised medical law (Article 58) was passed to change existing evaluation system of medical institutions to an accreditation system. The new healthcare accreditation system was introduced to encourage medical institutions to work voluntarily and continuously to improve patient safety and medical service quality. Changes regarding the healthcare accreditation system included the establishment of an accreditation agency, the voluntary participation of medical institutions, accreditation standards centering on the treatment process and patient safety, tracing methodology, and the announcement of comprehensive results concerning accreditation. Despite varying views on the healthcare accreditation system, including some that are critical, it is meaningful that the voluntary nature of the system acknowledges that the medical institutions must be active agents in improving medical service quality. Healthcare quality is not improved instantaneously, but instead gradually through continuous communication within the clinical field. For this accreditation system to be successful, followings are essential: the accreditation agency becomes financially independent and is managed efficiently, the autonomy and regulation surrounding the system are balanced, the professionalism of the system is ensured, and the medical field plays an active role in the operation of the system.
Accreditation; Quality of Healthcare; Quality Improvement
Electronic health records (EHRs) have potential quality and safety benefits. However, reports of EHR-related safety hazards are now emerging. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology (HIT) recently sponsored an Institute of Medicine committee to evaluate how HIT use affects patient safety. In this paper, we propose the creation of a national EHR oversight program to provide dedicated surveillance of EHR-related safety hazards and to promote learning from identified errors, close calls, and adverse events. The program calls for data gathering, investigation/analysis and regulatory components. The first two functions will depend on institution-level EHR safety committees that will investigate all known EHR-related adverse events and near-misses and report them nationally using standardized methods. These committees should also perform routine safety self-assessments to proactively identify new risks. Nationally, we propose the long-term creation of a centralized, non-partisan board with an appropriate legal and regulatory infrastructure to ensure the safety of EHRs. We discuss the rationale of the proposed oversight program and its potential organizational components and functions. These include mechanisms for robust data collection and analyses of all safety concerns using multiple methods that extend beyond reporting; multidisciplinary investigation of selected high-risk safety events; and enhanced coordination with other national agencies in order to facilitate broad dissemination of hazards information. Implementation of this proposed infrastructure can facilitate identification of EHR-related adverse events and errors and potentially create a safer and more effective EHR-based health care delivery system.
Patients in the United States commonly use the Internet to acquire health information. While a significant amount of health-related information is available on the Internet, the accuracy of this information is highly variable.
The objective of the study was to determine how effectively students can assess the accuracy of Internet-based material when gathering information on a controversial medical topic using simple keyword searches.
A group of 34 students from the science magnet high school in Houston, Texas searched for the terms “vaccine safety” and “vaccine danger” using Google and then answered questions regarding the accuracy of the health information on the returned sites. The students were also asked to describe the lessons they learned in the exercise and to answer questions regarding the strength of evidence for seven statements regarding vaccinations. Because of the surprising revelation that the majority of students left the exercise with inaccurate information concerning the safety and efficacy of vaccines, these same students participated in a follow-up study in which a fact-based vaccine video was shown, after which the assessment of student knowledge was repeated.
Of the 34 participants, 20 (59%) thought that the Internet sites were accurate on the whole, even though over half of the links (22 out of 40, 55%) that the students viewed were, in fact, inaccurate on the whole. A high percentage of the students left the first exercise with significant misconceptions about vaccines; 18 of the 34 participants (53%) reported inaccurate statements about vaccines in the lessons they learned. Of the 41 verifiable facts about vaccines that were reported by participants in their lessons-learned statement, 24 of those facts (59%) were incorrect. Following presentation of the film, the majority of students left the exercise with correct information about vaccines, based on their lessons-learned statement. In this case, 29 of the 31 participants (94%) reported accurate information about vaccines. Of the 49 verifiable facts about vaccines that were reported by participants, only 2 (4%) were incorrect. Students had higher correct scores in the “strength of evidence” exercise following exposure to the video as well.
Allowing students to use the Internet to gain information about medical topics should be approached with care since students may take away predominantly incorrect information. It is important to follow up conflicting information with a solid, unambiguous message that communicates those lessons that the instructor deems most important. This final message should be fact based but may need to contain an anecdotal component to counter the strong emotional message that is often delivered by inaccurate Internet sites.
Health education; health informatics; popular medicine; vaccines