Using the ONC SAFER Guides to Improve Patient Safety

On Wednesday, January 15, 2014 HHS released a series of nine evidence-based tools called Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides that outline best practices for health care organizations to implement and utilize electronic health records and reduce the chance of an adverse event.

Each SAFER Guide addresses a critical area associated with the safe use of EHRs. The guides include a series of self-assessment checklists, practice worksheets, and recommended practices for the following nine areas that your hospital or ambulatory practice can utilize to improve patient safety. HHS has developed a video showing care providers how to utilize the SAFER guides.

HHS recommends that organizations utilizing the guides should create a multi-disciplinary safety work group to utilize the tools in the first SAFER guide (High Priority Practices) to identify focus areas. Those focus areas are discussed in greater detail in the remaining eight guides.

STEP ONE: Complete High Priority Practices

The High Priority Practices SAFER Guide identifies "high risk" and "high priority" recommended safety practices intended to optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs. It is a broad overview of the eight primary high risk factors associated with the use of IT in a healthcare setting. The guide identifies risks (categorized as "social"- leadership, workflow, and policy; and "technical"- EHR technology, interfaces, and maintenance.

STEP TWO: Using the High Priority Practice Guide, Identify Areas of Organizational Risk.

The SAFER Guides are available at