FDA Chief Calls For Stricter Scrutiny Of Electronic Health Records

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Wednesday referred to as for tighter scrutiny of digital well being information programs, which have prompted 1000’s of studies of affected person accidents and different security issues over the previous decade.

“What we really need is a much more tailored approach, so that we have appropriate oversight of EHRs when they’re doing things that could create risk for patients,” Gottlieb stated in an interview with Kaiser Health News.

Gottlieb was responding to “Botched Operation,” a report revealed this week by KHN and Fortune journal. The investigation discovered that the federal authorities has spent greater than $36 billion over the previous 10 years to change docs and hospitals from paper to digital information programs. In that point, 1000’s of studies of deaths, accidents and close to misses linked to EHRs have piled up in databases — together with not less than one run by the FDA.

Gottlieb stated Congress would want to enact laws to outline when an digital well being document would require authorities oversight. He stated that the digital information programs, which retailer a affected person’s medical historical past, don’t match neatly underneath the company’s current mandate to manage gadgets corresponding to medication and medical gadgets.

Gottlieb stated one of the best method may be to say that an EHR that has a sure functionality turns into a medical machine. He referred to as EHRs a “unique tool,” noting that the dangers posed by their use aren’t the identical as for a conventional medical machine implanted in a affected person. “You need a much different regulatory scheme,” he stated.

The 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 excludes the FDA from having oversight over digital well being information as a medical machine.

Gottlieb stated that well being IT firms may add new capabilities that might enhance EHRs, however they’ve been reluctant to take action as a result of they didn’t need their merchandise to fall underneath FDA jurisdiction. He added that he was “not calling” for FDA to take over such an obligation, nonetheless, and urged that any new method could possibly be years away. Proponents have lengthy argued that widespread use of EHRs could make drugs safer by alerting docs to potential medical errors, although critics counter that software program glitches and person errors could trigger new styles of medical errors.

How carefully the FDA ought to watch over the digital medical document revolution has been controversial for years. The company’s curiosity within the situation perked up after Congress determined in February 2009 to spend billions of dollars on digital medical information as a part of an financial stimulus program.

At the time, many business teams argued that FDA regulation would “stifle innovation” and stall the nationwide drive to deliver drugs into the trendy period. Federal officers answerable for doling out billions in subsidies to docs and hospitals usually sympathized with that view and have been skeptical of permitting the FDA to play a job.

The debate turned public in February 2010, when Jeffrey Shuren, an FDA official, testified at a public listening to that the company had tied six deaths and greater than 200 accidents to well being info know-how. In all, the FDA stated, it had logged 260 studies within the earlier two years of “malfunctions with the potential for patient harm.”

The company stated the findings have been primarily based largely on studies voluntarily submitted to the FDA and urged “significant clinical implications and public safety issues.” In one case cited, lab assessments executed in a hospital emergency room have been despatched to the improper affected person’s file. Since then, a number of authorities and personal repositories have related 1000’s of accidents, close to misses and deaths to EHR know-how.

Shuren stated in 2010 that the company acknowledged that well being info know-how had nice potential to enhance affected person care, but additionally wanted oversight to “assure patient safety.”

While some security proponents agree that EHRs supply large advantages, in addition they see a larger alternatives to enhance their security.

Dean Sittig, a professor of bioinformatics and bioengineering on the University of Texas Health Science Center, stated EHRs have improved security throughout the well being care system, however they haven’t eradicated errors to the extent that he would have anticipated. Federal officers have been initially pushing for speedy adoption and “there wasn’t a lot of interest in talking about things that could go wrong,” Sittig informed KHN and Fortune.

Earlier this month, Gottlieb introduced his resignation from the FDA. His final day is scheduled to be April 5.

KHN correspondents Sarah Jane Tribble, Sydney Lupkin and Julie Rovner contributed to this report.

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