Study Shows Transition to Electronic Medical Record Systems May Cause Potential Errors

According to a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, although doctors and hospitals are in a mad dash to update to new electronic medical record systems (EMR)–after last year’s stimulus package promised a $27 million pay out to providers that meet the new EMR use–that transition can be risky and lead to an increase in certain types of medication errors in the months after the switch.

In the study, that our Hartford County, Maryland pharmacy error attorneys have been following, researchers found that although the change to a more streamlined system for entering prescription drug orders led to a general decrease in prescribing errors, other types of errors surfaced in the first few months after the changes were made.

Researchers reportedly followed 17 doctors who switched to new EMR systems, and found that improvements were immediately found in prescribing errors, where abbreviations that have a high potential to cause patient injury or harm dropped significantly. But rates of other prescription errors, such as medication direction mistakes were higher three months after the EMR switch over, and some rates of errors were even higher after an entire year using the system.

Rainu Kaushal, the chief of the division of quality and medical informatics at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, and the author of the study, claims that although the overall drop in prescribing errors is good, the results of the study show that there is a need for constant reassessments of the new systems—especially to prevent prescribing and medication errors in the future.

The study also found that fifteen of the physicians responded with mixed satisfaction levels to the EMR systems, with only a small group claiming the new medical records system improved the safety of patients. Forty percent claimed that they were dissatisfied with the new implementation of the system.

Kaushal stated that although it is difficult to relearn how to do many of the very basic activities on a new electronic system, as well as activities that consume a lot of time, the positive advantages of the electronic records definitely outweigh the negative aspects.

If you are a victim of prescription medication error in the state of Maryland, call our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today for a free consultation at 1-800-654-1949.

Study: Transition to Newer E-Prescribing Systems May Threaten Safety, The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2011

Related Web Resources:

Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

Institute of Medicine, (IOM)

National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, (NCCMERP)

Related Blogs:

Medication Error Reduced By “Scanning” Patients for Electronic Records, Pharmacy Error Injury Blog, October 28, 2010
E-prescribing Usage Increases with Doctors, but Not Without Problems, Pharmacy Error Injury Blog, August 2, 2010

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