Hold harmless

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Hold Harmless Clause: Provision in an agreement under which one or both parties agree not to hold the other party responsible for any loss, damage, or legal liability.3

The use of hold harmless clauses in Health Information Technology (HIT) systems is increasingly controversial. The legal device places significant regulatory and financial burdens on health care providers who are increasingly dependent on HIT while providing patient care. AMIA has taken a position that the hold harmless clauses are unethical and should be changed.1

Buyers and other health care providers who are users of HIT systems may be contractually constrained to indemnify HIT vendors for malpractice or personal injury claims against the health care providers, even when those occurances are not caused by the buyers of the HIT system.1 This contractual and legal device shifts liability and remedial burdens away from vendors of HIT to physicians, nurses, hospitals, and clinics, even when these HIT users are following vendor instructions.2


  1. Goodman KW, Berner ES, Dente MA, et al. Challenges in ethics, safety, best practices, and oversight regarding HIT vendors, their customers, and patients: a report of an AMIA special task force: J Am Med Inform Assoc (2010). doi:10.1136/jamia.2010.008946, Accessed Nov 18 2010. Available from: [1]
  2. Koppel R, Kreda D. Health care information technology vendors’ “hold harmless” clause implications for patients and clinicians: JAMA, March 25, 2009—Vol 301, No. 12 Viewed Nov 18 2010. Available from: [2]
  3. Anonymous. Hold harmless clause. WebFinance, Inc. [updated 11/19/2010; 11/19/2010] Available from : [3]

Submitted by (Tom Durkin)