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Electronic record keeping may have increased hospital errors

This is the digital age. Nearly everyone in the United States, including here in Illinois, uses computers, smart phones and/or tablets on a daily basis. For years now, the medical field has been working to catch up to this surge in technological advances, but not everyone is convinced that it reduces hospital errors.

As long as there are humans involved in the process, mistakes can -- and often will -- happen. The wrong key stroke can result in a patient receiving the wrong medication or the right medication with the wrong dosage. Information regarding a patient's condition, diagnosis and/or treatment needs could be entered under the wrong individual. Any of these computer errors could lead to adverse health consequences for the patient.

The potential for error only increases in a hospital emergency room. The pace is often fast, and the doctors, nurses and other staff are often dividing their attention between several patients at once. This environment lends itself to mistakes, even before computers are added to the mix.

Still, there are numerous advantages to having electronic patient records that can be linked among doctors and hospitals. However, safeguards need to be put into place to protect the patients. A physician or nurse can provide excellent care, but it is all for naught if the it is the wrong care for the patient.

Technology is supposed to make people's lives easier, but that is not always the case. Illinois residents who believe that they, or members of their families, were injured due to hospital errors might discover that the mistakes were related to computer mistakes. Therefore, any investigation connected to a medical malpractice claim will often involve a review of the computer data, along with the policies, procedures and training of all medical staff who use the hospital's computers.

Source: medscape.com, "EHRs in the ED: Concerns Emerge About Medical Errors", Shefali Luthra, March 1, 2016

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