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Study shows more than 3,000 errors with electronic health records

Denver readers may be interested in a study that found more than 3,000 incidents of errors in Electronic Health Records (EHR). The study shows an increase of double the number of health safety issues in a one year period. Sixteen cases in question were noted as causing "some kind" of harm. However, only one medication error was considered to have caused significant harm.

That case involved a patient who was given penicillin even though the patient had a known penicillin allergy. An allergy was listed in the open text area of the EHR but not in the field for drug allergies where it should be listed to prevent the drug from being ordered for the patient. The patient suffered anaphylactic shock, but lived.

The data was analyzed by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and found 1,142 cases of EHR issues related to patient safety in 2011 compared with the 555 incidents in 2010. It also found that 47 percent of those issues involved incorrect input into the system and 18 percent were from failure to update the EHR with information that was listed in other places in the system. The rest of the cases came from less frequently reported issues, such as non-functioning devices and data loss.

In November 2011, a doctor on the Institute of Medicine panel requested an independent federal group be formed to investigate adverse IT-related patient safety issues. By December 2012, The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology released a plan to make tracking and fixing IT-related patient safety issues easier.

While the study shows that in most instances electronic medical record errors do not necessarily result in significant harm to the patient, there are still instances that may result in medical malpractice. Anyone harmed by a medical error, whether records related or involving negligence of any kind may want to contact an attorney to better understand his or her rights. An attorney will inform patients who are harmed by medical errors of their options to seek compensation for any expenses and long-term issues associated with their injuries.

Source: American Medical News, "EHR-related errors soar but few harm patients, "Kevin B. O'Reilly, Jan. 14, 2013

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