EHR systems raise concerns about patient safety

Use of electronic health records can pose patient safety concerns for patients, according to study results published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Between August 2009 and May 2013, researchers extracted 100 consecutive closed investigations from a non-punitive, voluntary reporting system on electronic health record (EHR) safety run by the Informatics Patient Safety Office of the Veterans Health Administration. Researchers analyzed the investigations for both technical and non-technical concerns, including adverse events and potential events.

Of these investigations, 74 involved unsafe technology and 25 involved unsafe use of technology, with 70% identifying a mix of two or more technical or non-technical underlying factors. Study results showed safety concerns occurred more often when non-technical dimensions, such as workflow, policies and personnel, had a complex interaction with technical dimensions, such as software/hardware, content and user interface.

Researchers also found safety concerns were most common among the display of information in the EHRs, software upgrades or modifications and transmission of data between different components of the EHR system. They suggested organizations with longstanding EHR systems as well as those that recently implemented them should ensure they have good monitoring and risk assessment protocols in place to detect and mitigate patient safety incidents.

For more information:

Meeks DW. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2014;doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2013-002578.

Disclosure: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.


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