Electronic health record systems may be associated with medication and laboratory test errors

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Intravenous news: Medpage Today report “As electronic health record systems become more interconnected, errors may propagate much farther than under old paper-based systems, a recent study suggested. According to a review by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, mistakes and near misses involving electronic health records were analogous to those made with paper-based records with one caveat: those made with EHRs tend to be amplified and can affect a larger group of people.

The Authority’s study looked at 3,099 reports from Pennsylvania hospitals detailing 3,946 problems. More than 2,700 incidents involved near misses and 15 involved temporary harm to patients. The study focused on incidents from 2004 to 2012 in which electronic health records were the root cause in the event, as opposed to being incidental. Electronic health records are designed to be more efficient than paper-based records, but the two systems have one thing in common: they’re developed and maintained by people. The most common source of problems identified in the study rested with data entry and, to a much lesser extent, with technical glitches.

Medication errors accounted for about 80% of the cases, or 2,516 reports. Many of the remainder involved lab tests. About half of the drug errors involved the wrong medication, with underdosing the problem in about 30%.”

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