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SPM member Ken Farbstein sent us this invitation to help persuade the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to include printed summaries of doctor visits in the ONC’s definition of meaningful use.

After our pets go to the veterinarian, many of us promptly and routinely get a paper summary that instructs us how to best care for them, i.e., treatment follow-up, diet, and specific healthy behaviors. We should get medical info from our own doctors that’s as good as our dogs and cats get! Sign the petition at

Human patients should receive a paper summary of their doctor’s orders for new medications, changes in medications, and the treatment plan, as they exit the doctor’s office. Many patients find it hard to remember everything a doctor tells them during the visit. Foreign language speakers; patients with dementia, memory and hearing problems; anxious patients; patients with multiple conditions and complex treatment plans; patients in denial about their alcohol or substance abuse, and many other patients often do not hear and retain everything a doctor advises them. Without clearly understanding all a doctor’s orders, patients are unlikely to act accordingly, which slows their recovery. It leads to unnecessary suffering. It may also lead to a greater likelihood of entering the hospital for costly care.

For the vast majority of patients, including the elderly, and those lacking computer skills or internet access, a paper copy of the doctor’s orders in plain English will be more convenient than logging in to a seldom-used, password-protected electronic account on the Web. By default, patients should get a paper copy handed to them, or mailed immediately after the visit, unless they prefer an electronic copy.

The Stage 2 and 3 definitions by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC HIT) of “meaningful use” of an electronic health record in the patients’ eyes should require doctors to routinely hand a paper copy of the doctor’s orders to each patient as he or she leaves the doctor’s office, or mail it to the patient immediately afterward.

Paper handouts are highly portable. The National Coordinator should adopt these ideas, which are provided in response to their specific requests on pages 136 and 89 of the proposed Federal rule (RIN 0991-AB82). These comments refer to Sections 170.314(e)(1) and 170.314(e)(2), as noted at 77 FR 13838-41 and 77 FR 13856-57.

Let’s get healthcare as good as our dogs and cats get! Join us by signing the petition at

Ken Farbstein, MPP
President, Patient AdvoCare

Ilene Corina, President
Patient Safety Consultant / Advocate

John T. James, Ph.D.
Editor, Patient Safety America Newsletter

Armando Nahum
President at Safe Care Campaign

Jean Rexford, Executive Director
Connecticut Center for Patient Safety

Trisha Torrey
Every Patient’s Advocate

Nicola B Truppin
Health Navigator Partners, LLC

Deb Wachenheim
Health Quality Manager
Health Care for All Massachusetts


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