A recent letter encourages integration of the medical supply chain to prevent errors.In a recent letter to national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal, the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association and the Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management - which is part of the American Hospital Association - have teamed up to encourage federal officials to integrate two standards from the healthcare supply chain into electronic healthcare records and supply-chain management systems. The move would further protect against medical errors.

The two organizations argue that adopting an industry-wide standard regarding EHR and supply chain components would improve conditions for physicians and patients alike. Using systems like the Global Location Number to track the location of a product or service, along with the Global Trade Item Number, which identifies specific products and services, would also help speed the process of eliminating potentially harmful products from the supply chain in the unfortunate event of a recall.

"Today, manufacturers, wholesalers/distributors, suppliers, group purchasing organizations, hospitals, and physicians each record and track product information differently, opening the flood gates for medical errors that severely impact patient safety and the quality of care," the letter states. "Without data standards in this area, it is virtually impossible to efficiently recall devices and other supplies, and that can lead to grave injury and even death."

The letter goes on to call the adoption of industry-wide standards a "matter of great importance."

"Adopting these standards will ensure that medical products, services, and locations all have unique identifiers. The resulting supply chain improvement will translate into the delivery of improved clinical services, creating a tracking system for healthcare products and devices that will be traceable from 'product to patient,'" the letter continues.
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