Electronic Health Records and Medical Errors

Electronic health records have been touted as a potential solution to medical errors. However, a new study reveals that EHRs aren’t necessarily a cure-all.
According to a report in Renal and Urology News, “The study, conducted by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, looked at EHR-related event reports from Pennsylvania hospitals to determine the severity of the errors. Of the total 3,099 events, 2,763 (89%) were errors that caused no harm to patients. In addition, 320 (10%) involved unsafe conditions that did not result in harm to patients. Fifteen reports involved temporary harm to patients due to entering wrong medication data, administering the wrong medication, ignoring a documented allergy, failure to enter lab tests, and failure to document. One report of a failure to properly document an allergy resulted in significant harm to a patient.”
Electronic health records may indeed be part of the solution but such technology is no panacea and can’t solve this huge problem entirely independent of transparency, improved communication between health disciplines, and patient advocacy.

Holly Haines