The Benefits and Problems of Electronic Medical Records Systems

In a recent Baltimore County pharmacy misfill injury blog, our attorneys discussed a tragic medical error that caused the death of an premature infant, after a pharmacy technician accidentally entered the wrong information into the computer, causing the intravenous solution prepared buy an automated machine to contain a lethal dose of sodium chloride. This pharmacy error has reportedly brought the issue of electronic medical health records safety concerns back into the forefront of patient safety.

As our attorneys have reported in a related Hartford County medication error injury blog, the medical industry is shifting toward electronic medical records and computerized systems that make medical processes and prescription orders automatic, in an effort to reduce pharmacy error injury or wrongful death.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the federal government is also currently helping the digital shift by giving $23 billion in incentives to healthcare providers who purchase the electronic systems, with the hopes that these medical technologies will help increase access to patients’ medical information, help healthcare providers communicate better with each other, help doctors to see test results more quickly, and implement electronic safeguards to remind doctors about recommended medical practices, or to alert them about harmful drug interactions before prescribing.

With all of the benefits that come with electronic medical records and computerized systems, potential problems are also taking place, like crashing of hospital computers, or software bugs that interfere with important data, or even delete information from computerized records. Computerized systems also reportedly can produce data about patients that is disorganized or difficult to read, especially when a doctor is quickly looking for critical patient information.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Dr. Mark Frisse, professor of biomedical informatics, stated that although systems don’t always communicate in an optimum way together, this should not be an excuse to stop moving forward toward electronic healthcare, as compared with the paper-based world, where the pharmacy errors were far more prevalent.

In December of last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration acknowledged getting 370 reports of problems with health information technology since January of 2008, but these numbers are reportedly low, as such reports are not voluntary.

Contact our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today to discuss about your Maryland pharmacy error injury rights. Call us toll-free at 1-800-654-1949 to schedule your free consultation.

Baby’s death spotlights safety risks linked to computerized systems, Chicago Tribune, June 27, 2011
EMR Safety In Spotlight After Baby’s Death, Information Week, June 30, 2011

Related Web Resources:

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors in Children: Patient Fact Sheet, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports

Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

Related Blog Posts:

Safety of Electronic Medical Records Questioned After Pharmacy Error Leads to Death of Infant, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, August 3, 2011
New Study Finds Electronic Medication Error Rates Consistent with Handwritten Prescriptions, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, July 1, 2011
FDA Redesigns Pharmacy Packet Inserts to Avoid Medication Error Injury, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, May 9, 2011
CVS Pharmacy Error Leads to Amoxicillin Overdose in Child, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, May 6, 2011
Walgreens Pharmacy Misfill Leaves Toddler With Dangerous Drug, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, May 4, 2011
Study Finds Small Doses of Drugs From Syringes Could Cause Medication Error in Children, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, February 4, 2011

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