The adoption of electronic health records, or EHR, was supposed to decrease the number of medication errors. But a new study reported by UPI has shown that these systems still miss up to a third of dangerous drug interactions, and patients can suffer terrible injuries as a result.
The test used simulated patient records to check whether the electronic record system caught a mistake. Unfortunately, according to the report’s authors, a large number of negative interactions were missed.
We are not surprised. Around 1.25 million medication errors occur in the U.S. annually. Errors include giving the wrong dose of a correct drug or administering two or more drugs that interact in a dangerous fashion. Each year, around 9,000 people die from a medication error, and electronic records have not yet eliminated them.
Safety is Improving—Slowly
EHRs are now common in Florida hospitals. These systems were first adopted in the 1960s to replace paper records, which have obvious problems, such as being filed in the wrong place or getting lost easily. Doctors should enter any information about the medications they prescribe into the system, which retains this information. Software should then check whether the new prescription would interact negatively with other drugs or the patient’s own medical history. The system should notify a doctor immediately of a problem so that he or she can prescribe something else or alter the medications the patient is currently taking.
Unfortunately, electronic record systems are not yet operating at 100% effectiveness. They should almost always notify a doctor that the medication ordered will interact with allergies or other drugs.
The good news is that researchers are seeing improvements. For example, in 2009, researchers found that EHR systems caught 54% of errors. That number jumped to 66% by 2018. We hope that the numbers will continue to improve over the next decade.
However, not all hospitals participate in these safety evaluations, which means that their record could be much worse than what the study found. They also are forgoing any opportunity to improve their electronic systems.
Were You Injured by a Medication Error? We Can Help
At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP we believe that patients deserve competent care whenever they entrust their health to a medical professional. Unfortunately, too many doctors make simple mistakes that injure our clients, including medication errors.
Call one of our Miami medical malpractice lawyers today at 305-371-2692. We offer a free consultation.