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Study shows many medication errors related to EHR use

Electronic health records are tied to numerous cases of medication errors, especially in the field of pediatric medicine. This is the conclusion of a study recently published in Health Affairs. Kentucky readers may be interested to learn that researchers analyzed 9,000 patient safety reports filed with three health care institutions from 2012 to 2017, and they found that more than half of the errors recorded involved both EHR and medication errors.

In all, 36 percent of the reports involved an error with EHR usability. Researchers estimate that 18.8 percent may have led to patient harm. While 84.5 percent of the errors related to dosage, especially overdoses, 3.5 percent were due to missed dosages and other examples of improper timing.

The most common EHR usability issues are with feedback and the visual display. As an example, EHRs may not provide an alert when a medication is prescribed to a patient who is certain to have an allergic reaction to it. The display could be cluttered or confusing to navigate, making it difficult for clinicians to enter in the appropriate patient information.

EHR issues affect pediatrics in particular. The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which oversees EHRs, has few policies for distinguishing between the adult and pediatric population. This can obviously lead to dosage errors, among other mishaps.

Those who are injured through a medication error may be able to file a claim for medical malpractice. However, the process of establishing a doctor's negligence can be difficult. Victims are urged therefore to see a lawyer for a case evaluation.

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