Safety collaborative releases copy and paste safety guide

The Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a collaborative convened by the ECRI Institute, has released its safe practice recommendations for using the copy and paste function in electronic health record systems.

The copy and paste function can increase efficiency, create continuity of care and save time, but it also holds risks if not used correctly, including compromising the integrity of the record and creating bloated notes, according to an announcement.

The toolkit, the Partnership's first release in a series of evidence-based recommendations to improve health IT safety, provides four recommendations regarding copy and paste:

  • Provide a mechanism to make copy and paste material easily identifiable
  • Ensure that the provenance of copy and paste material is readily available
  • Ensure adequate staff training and education regarding the appropriate and safe use of copy and paste
  • Ensure that copy and paste practices are regularly monitored, measured and assessed

The toolkit provides not only the recommendations but also resources to implement them, such as educational materials, checklists and assessments.

"I hope the toolkit will stimulate discussions about safe practices, so that all of the stakeholders, including frontline staff, are aware of what the current copy and paste practices are," ECRI Institute's Lorraine Possanza, senior patient safety, risk and quality analyst, said in the announcement.

Many have decried problems with EHR usability and functionalities that adversely affect patient safety, such as the use of copy and paste that can overpopulate data and make relevant information hard to find. The Joint Commission has outlined its concerns about inappropriate use of the copy and paste function. The Office of Inspector General and others have expressed the concern that copy and paste can also be used to upcode and bill improperly.

To learn more:
- read the announcement