It seems that almost everything is computerized. When a North Carolina resident visits the doctor, data related to the visit is entered into the computer and any prescriptions are electronically sent to the pharmacy. Additionally, this information is uploaded to the individual’s electronic health record and is available for the individual’s insurance company and other physicians to access. The premise behind this is to ensure that the individual’s medical needs are addressed and that medical personnel know the individual’s health and prescription information as needed in order to prevent medication errors.
The idea behind this system has its benefits. However, data presented from a 10-year study based on this system as used in hospitals indicate a safety measure that may be concerning. Over the course of the study period, the mean test scores rose from the approximately 54% to a little over 65%. On the surface, this may appear to be a significant increase; however, the bottom line is that it still suggests that safety standards related to electronic health records are only met approximately 65% of the time.
This may not appear to hold much significance for many North Carolina residents. But what about the loved one who is hospitalized? Medical personnel utilize the patient’s electronic health record to be certain that the patient is receiving the correct medication at the correct dosage. Unfortunately, an error was made; something was incorrectly entered into the system, and the individual receives the incorrect medication or a medication to which he or she has an allergy. The results can be catastrophic.
Hospitals and medical personnel enter thousands of pieces of information into electronic health records on a regular basis. Overall, this system does provide benefit to the patient. However, when a medication error occurs as the result of an incorrect entry, there can be serious problems which may indicate a need for legal action.