I have commented in various notes about the rumored, but never firmly documented, "gag clauses" in EHR contracts that stifle discussion about defects in these systems (see: Physician & Nurse Involvement in EHR Design; Patient Safety and EHR Gag Clauses; Sutter Health System EHR Crash Reported by Nursing Union; Recall of the United HealthCare Picis PulseCheck Emergency Department Software). Politico has now documented in detail this problem (see: Doctors barred from discussing safety glitches in U.S.-funded software). Below is an excerpt from the article:
President Barack Obama’s stimulus put taxpayers on the hook for $30 billion in electronic medical records, many of which have turned out to be technological disasters. But don’t expect to hear about the problems from doctors or hospitals. Most of them are under gag orders not to discuss the specific failings of their systems — even though poor technology in hospitals can have lethal consequences. A POLITICO investigation found that some of the biggest firms marketing electronic record systems inserted “gag clauses” in their taxpayer-subsidized contracts, effectively forbidding health care providers from talking about glitches that slow their work and potentially jeopardize patients. POLITICO obtained 11 contracts through public record requests from hospitals and health systems in New York City, California, and Florida that use six of the biggest vendors of digital record systems. With one exception, each of the contracts contains a clause protecting potentially large swaths of information from public exposure. This is the first time the existence of the gag clauses has been conclusively documented. Vendors say such restrictions target only breaches of intellectual property and are invoked rarely. But doctors, researchers and members of Congress contend they stifle important discussions, including disclosures that problems exist. In some cases, they say, the software’s faults can have lethal results, misleading doctors and nurses who rely upon it for critical information in life-or-death situations....Critics say the clauses – which POLITICO documented in contracts with Epic Systems, Cerner, Siemens (now part of Cerner), Allscripts, eClinicalWorks and Meditech – have kept researchers from understanding the scope of the failures.
You can confirm all of this by yourself. Simple Google the name of your hospital EHR vendor with EHR and another relevant search term such as safety or mistake or error or bug or flaw. You get the idea. The search won't take long because not many references will be retrieved. We now know for certain why there is so little chat on the web about EHR problems.