November 30, 2011
AFT Media Affairs
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Efforts to Speed Up Adoption of Computerized Health Records
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced new measures to speed up the adoption of health information technology, including computerized patient records, by doctors and hospitals nationwide. The actions are part of the Obama administration's "We Can't Wait" effort to move forward using executive authority in areas where congressional action has stalled.
WASHINGTON—Computerized patient records will save lives. Instead of often illegible handwritten patient records that make coordination of treatment difficult, healthcare professionals need state-of-the-art health information technology to reduce medical errors, protect patient safety and improve the quality of care. The American Federation of Teachers—including the nurses and other caregivers we represent—has repeatedly called for speedy adoption of computerized records and other measures. We applaud the Obama administration's efforts to accelerate this process.
There is a right way and a wrong way to bring this important change to the healthcare industry. The right way includes listening to the professionals who will use the new systems and giving them as much support as required so the technology is used effectively and efficiently.
A 2010 AFT survey of 604 nurses found that one in five nurses expressed concern over inadequate training and support to use the new systems effectively. So, it is crucial that nurses and other frontline caregivers have a voice in the design and rollout of new computerized systems.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.