Electronic Health Records and the Important Discussion Concerning Patient Safety and Modern Technology

The advent and increased use of electronic health records has led to questions and concerns about the proper role of such records in healthcare patient safety.
In a position paper published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), Bethesda, Md.-based AMIA spelled out 10 recommendations in four areas: research into health IT-related human factors; health IT policy; vendors; and clinician end users. The AMIA cited useability in terms of standardization across healthcare systems as well as interoperability as two primary concerns addressed in the paper. Also, the subject of adverse events which concern medical mistakes and errors are an important aspect of information technology in the healthcare industry. “Following best practices for EHR implementation is essential to safe and effective use,” the AMIA task force wrote. “User error may result in untoward outcomes and unintended negative consequences. These may also occur as a result of poor usability, and may also be an emergent property only demonstrated after system implementation or widespread use. User errors may occur without adverse events, and some may not even be apparent to the user, analyzed by hospital or clinic review boards, or reported to the vendor.”

Holly Haines