The Essential role of laboratory professionals : ensuring the safety and effectiveness of laboratory data in electronic health record systems
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The Essential role of laboratory professionals : ensuring the safety and effectiveness of laboratory data in electronic health record systems

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    The development of electronic health record (EHR) systems and other health information technologies is changing how laboratory data are transmitted and displayed throughout the healthcare system. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the key areas in which laboratory professionals can contribute their expertise to the development of accurate exchange and display of laboratory data in EHR systems. Thoughtfully designed and rigorously tested EHR systems improve patient care by making it easier to collect, share, and interpret patient data. However, variations in EHR system design, functionality, and ability to exchange data accurately (interoperability) can also cause preventable patient safety risks. Examples of preventable patient safety risks include misdiagnosis, delays in treatment, and inappropriate treatment. These patient safety risks may unintentionally result in patient injury or even death. For the purpose of this paper, an EHR is safe and effective for laboratory data when the display of information and the computer system’s behaviors (such as critical result alerts) are developed and implemented to optimally ensure accurate and timely interpretation by the end user.

    The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the seriousness of laboratory data-related interoperability issues and display discrepancies in EHR systems, and propose focus areas for action by laboratory professionals to support resolving those issues. Through collaboration, laboratory professionals, clinicians, healthcare executives, medical professional societies, health IT developers, and federal agencies like the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can work together to develop effective solutions to reduce identified patient safety risks in and improve the safety of EHR systems.

    Suggested citation: Sawchuk, M., Linville, M., Cornish, N., Pollock, A., Lubin, I., Gagnon, M., and Stinn, J. The Essential Role of Laboratory Professionals: Ensuring the Safety and Effectiveness of Laboratory Data in Electronic Health Record Systems. Atlanta, GA: Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; May 2014. Retrieved from



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