Technology Problems Impact Electronic Health Records Causing Patient Safety Concerns

Susan Scutti | Medical Daily | June 20, 2014

Electronic health records (EHRs) are simply a 21st Century version of the paper charts formerly used by your doctor to record your medical history, notes, and other information about your health, including medications, lab results, past diagnoses, vital signs, immunizations, and test reports. Although many physicians have already adopted EHRs, soon all practices and providers will be required to use them so it is important to understand how the transition from paper to computer might work. Disappointingly, a new study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association finds patient safety issues related to EHRs persist long after the 'go live' date.

It is expected EHRs will improve the general quality of health care as every doctor will have access to all of a patient’s medical history right there online. Unfortunately, recent evidence suggests use of EHRs may also prompt safety concerns when network outages occur or a computer glitch prevents clinical decision support. Judging from the experiences of early adopters, problems with EHRs are often complex and difficult to prevent and so it came as no surprise when the Institute of Medicine called for attention to this matter of how EHRs impact patient safety...