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CQ: After Five Months & No Reply From Sebelius, Small Business Panel Complains

Washington, November 13, 2012 -

CQ: After Five Months and No Reply From Sebelius on IT-Related Inquiry, Small Business Panel Complains

November 13, 2012
By John Reichard

The head of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Technology says it’s been five months since she asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about federal efforts to protect against injuries from faulty health information technology, and she still has not received a response.

In a letter to Sebelius obtained by CQ HealthBeat, the chairwoman, North Carolina Republican Renee Ellmers, complained about the lack of a reply to her June 12, 2012, letter to Sebelius. That letter asked, among other things, what the department is doing to minimize patient safety risks associated with health IT, following an Institute of Medicine report issued a year ago calling for greater public and private oversight of technology.

An HHS official forwarded a copy of the letter but had no immediate comment.

The earlier letter also asked for information on plans by HHS to work with the private sector on such risks and for details concerning health IT-related errors causing injury that might have been reported to the National Coordinator for Health IT.

The latest letter from Ellmers also notes that the Institute of Medicine report dated Nov. 8, 2011, recommended that HHS issue a plan within 12 months to minimize patient safety risks from IT and to detail progress made by HHS on that front. Those recommendations have not been issued.

“We have heard nothing from the department about the status of any of my requests,” Ellmers wrote. “Meanwhile, we continue to see media reports of patient safety risks related to health IT. Once again, I respectfully ask that you respond to my letter.”