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EHR usability issues behind many medication errors

A study published in December 2018 has shown that electronic health records, despite their advantages, can sometimes contribute to safety errors in medicine. Hawaii residents, especially those with children who take medication, should take note that EHR issues are behind an estimated 50 percent of all pediatric safety errors.

Researchers looked at 9,000 patient safety reports filed with three different health care institutions between 2012 and 2017, and they found that more than half of the errors mentioned in them involved both EHR usability and medication. Of those, 36 percent of cases had EHR usability issues that led to specific medication errors, 18.8 percent of which may have resulted in patient harm.

Overdoses were all too frequent. This affects children in particular because there are few policies set up by the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the federal agency that oversees EHRs, that help distinguish between adult and pediatric populations.

As for what the usability issues are, they mostly relate to system feedback and the EHR's visual display. For example, EHRs may not let clinicians know that patients have allergies to the medication just prescribed. The display could be cluttered and confusing, making it hard for clinicians to correctly enter in basic information. These challenges may put thousands of patients across the nation at risk for injury.

Those who are injured through medical malpractice are entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and other applicable losses. However, this will mean filing a claim. Claims have high stakes, and the other side will be aggressive in denying payment. That's why victims are encouraged to hire legal counsel before making a move. The statute of limitations in this state is two years after the injury was discovered or, with reasonable diligence, should have been discovered.

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