SAFER Guides

Safety Tips

Written policies specify unambiguous responsibility for test result follow-up with a shared understanding of that responsibility among all involved in providing follow-up care.

The organization has a process to assign a “temporary” unique patient ID (which is later merged into a permanent ID) in the event that either the patient registration system is unavailable or the patient

Corollary (or consequent) orders are automatically suggested when appropriate and the orders are linked together, so that changes are reflected when the original order is rescheduled, renewed, or discontinued.

Information required to accurately identify the patient is clearly displayed on screens and printouts.

At the time of any major system change or upgrade that affects an interface, the organization implements procedures to evaluate whether users on both sides of the interface correctly understand and use information that moves over the interface.

Clinicians are able to electronically access current patient and clinician contact information (e.g., email address, telephone and fax numbers, etc.) and identify clinicians currently involved in a patient’s care.

Patient data and software application configurations critical to the organization’s operations are backed up.

The EHR has the capability for the clinician to set reminders for future tasks to facilitate test result follow-up.

The EHR is configured to ensure EHR users work in the “live” production version, and do not confuse it with training, test, and read-only backup versions.

The organization has processes and methods in place to monitor the effects of key configuration settings to ensure they are working as intended.

Users are warned when they attempt to create a new record for a patient (or look up a patient) whose first and last name are the same as another patient.

Security procedures, including role-based access, are established for managing and monitoring key designated aspects of interfaces and data exchange.

Communication mechanisms ensure that EHR users learn of EHR changes promptly, and users are able to give feedback on related safety concerns.

The highest-level decision makers (e.g., boards of directors or owners of physician practices) are committed to promoting a culture of safety that incorporates the safety and safe use of EHRs.

Staff are trained and tested on downtime and recovery procedures.

Both EHR design and organizational policy facilitate clear identification of clinicians who are responsible for action or follow-up in response to a message.

Evidence-based order sets are available in the EHR for common tasks/conditions and are updated regularly.

Clinicians are able to override computer-generated clinical interventions when they deem necessary.

Read the ONC Health IT Safety Program report [PDF – 307 KB]

A brief overview of some of the activities of the ONC Health IT Safety Program since publication of the Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan [PDF – 1.1 MB]