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Medical errors tied to use of electronic health records

A study published by Health Affairs indicated that electronic health records may be responsible for a large number of medication errors. The findings of the study might be valuable for Arizona residents who have suffered harm due to medical malpractice. Researchers looked at the safety reports for 9000 people who were admitted to one of three health care providers between 2012 and 2017. More than 50 percent of the errors reported were tied to medication and the usability of EHR systems.

The report's lead author said the biggest of the EHR usability issues have to do with the visual display and system feedback. The EHR systems may not always give doctors and nurses alerts when a patient is being prescribed a medication to which he or she could have an allergic reaction. In some cases, the visual display might be confusing or cluttered for the medical professional so alerts are missed.

The most common types of drug errors were dosage errors. Researchers found that improper dosing accounted for 84.5 percent of medication errors. In one case the report cites, a doctor erroneously prescribed five times the medication's recommended dosage and the EHR system did not give any warning or alert. The report noted that EHRs have led to care delivery improvements, but said they need to get better.

People who have incurred economic or non-economic losses due to medication errors may be entitled to recover for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages. A lawyer with experience handling medical malpractice cases will need to show that that the health care practitioner or facility failed to exhibit the requisite standard of care, and that such failure led to the harm that was incurred.

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