Electronic health records (EHRs) are supposed to help prevent medical mistakes and patient injuries in a wide variety of healthcare settings. The idea behind EHRs is that humans make mistakes, but electronic systems can do better than humans to avoid the kinds of errors that so frequently result in patient harm. However, according to a recent study on the efficacy of EHRs, it turns out that they do not always prevent healthcare providers from making serious, preventable errors. Indeed, a recent article in USA Today discussed the new study and pointed out that “these new systems may be failing to do their job.”
Although EHRs “have largely replaced written medical records in hospitals across the country to reduce human error that could result in patient injury or death,” the researchers involved in the new study reported that “EHRs didn’t detect up to 33 percent of medical errors in study simulations.” Their research was published in JAMA Open Network. This new study suggests that hospitals and healthcare providers may need to look beyond EHRs when it comes to preventing medical errors that cause serious injuries.
Need to Reduce Human Errors in Medical Records
Some of the most common types of medical mistakes result from healthcare providers failing to know about or acknowledge a patient’s medical history, existing prescription medications, drug allergies, and other related issues. All of this information is typically contained in a patient’s medical record. When a patient goes from a primary care provider (PCP) to a specialist or a surgeon at a hospital within the same medical system, that patient’s information should be accessible to certain healthcare providers through the electronic health record. If a new physician prescribes a medication that could result in a harmful interaction with a drug the patient already takes (and which is listed in that patient’s health record), the HER system is supposed to send up an alert.
Unfortunately, EHRs do not always work as they should. In fact, the new study suggests that they only work about 66 percent of the time. To put that information another way, EHRs fail to prevent about one-third of all medical errors related to patient health histories. The new study was conducted by researchers at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and the University of Utah Health. The author of the study, Dr. David C. Classen, described the HER failures that his research time identified as unacceptable. As he explained, “in any other industry, this degree of software failure wouldn’t be tolerated.”
Ineffective History of EHRs
Did you know that EHRs have been in use for nearly six decades? In the 1990s and early 2000s, EHRs became used more widely, especially after research cited medical mistakes as a leading cause of death in the country. Yet, while technology, on the whole, has improved significantly since the early 2000s, the same is not true of EHR technology. About a decade ago, EHRs only prevented a little more than half of all medical mistakes, and that number has not improved drastically since then.
As such, patients need to be aware of medical error risks and to take precautions when they visit healthcare providers.
Seek Advice from a West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you were injured because of a medical error, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney can speak with you today. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC for more information.