Electronic health records are supposed to reduce medical errors in hospitals. But they fail to detect up to 33%, study says.

Electronic health records are supposed to reduce medical errors in hospitals. But they fail to detect up to 33%, study says.Dr. Diane G. Verga, a physician with Hooper Ave. Adult Care in Toms River, N.J., talks with patient Carol Nering on March 25, 2013, as she checks Nering's electronic medical record on a computer. Telemedicine in New Jersey is more evolution than revolution. That's because the first step toward telemedicine is linking systems and sharing data, which begins with computerization of medical records. Proposed telemedicine laws have yet to find their way out of legislative committees. (Gannett, Bob Bielk/Asbury Park Press) [Via MerlinFTP Drop]

Electronic health records (EHRs) have largely replaced written medical records in hospitals across the country to reduce human error that could result in patient injury or death. However, a study found these new systems may be failing to do their job.

In fact, researchers at University of Utah Health, Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital discovered EHRs failed to detect up to 33% of medical errors in study simulations, according to the report published Friday in an issue of JAMA Open Network.

Dr. David C. Classen, study author and professor of internal medicine at University of Utah Health, said EHRs are failing to save lives by ensuring safe use of medications. These systems were created to issue warnings to doctors if their orders for medication could result in allergic reactions, adverse drug interactions, excessive doses or other potentially harmful effects.

“In any other industry, this degree of software failure wouldn’t be tolerated,” Classen said in a news release. “You would never get on an airplane, for instance, if an airline could only promise it could get you to your destination safety two-thirds of the time.”

Scientists presented more than 8,600 simulated scenarios to different EHR systems in over 2,300 hospitals across the country from 2009 to 2018. The study used the Leapfrog CPOE test, an assessment of how a health system has designed and configured their inpatient computerized provider order entry functionality, to evaluate scenario outcomes.

Almost all of the scenarios were based on cases that harmed or killed patients in the real world.

For instance, one scenario was based on a 52-year-old woman admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Prior to hospitalization, she was taking a blood thinner for a blood clot located in a vein deep inside her body. After she was hospitalized, she was given that blood thinner three times a day. She died of a large hemorrhage directly related to the overdose.

EHRs were first introduced to hospitals in the 1960s, according to the study’s news release, but were widely adopted after a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicineestimated as many as 98,000 people die in any given year from medical errors that occur in hospitals.

Pregnant? Don't panic:As states reopen, medical experts recommend pregnant women stay vigilant against COVID-19

Coronavirus impact:These states have the most underreported COVID-19 deaths

While technology has greatly improved from 2009 to 2018, researchers found EHRs only modestly improved during the study’s 10-year span. In 2009, EHR systems issued warnings or alerts about potential medication problems about 54% of the time. By 2018, the number increased to 66%.

Experts say hospitals and federal regulators play a big a role in EHRs effectiveness to detect medical errors. Hospital struggles to keep up with software updates as discoveries in drug safety research continue to change recommendations and guidelines. That means EHR performance can vary from hospital to hospital.

“Hospitals decide what drug-related decision supports to turn on within their systems. They have a great latitude around this,” said Dr. David W. Bates, study co-author and chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Federal regulators only inspect systems with factory specifications and don’t look at alterations or updates made after installation.

A spokesperson for the Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said health IT has reduced medical errors overall and suggestive research shows “a very small percent” of medical errors can be attributed to it.

“While the use of electronic health information does not guarantee that there won’t be adverse events, the government continues to work to improve the safety of healthcare with the use of health IT,” the office said in a statement sent to USA TODAY.

Dr. Allison Weathers, Enterprise Associate Chief of Medical Information Officer at the Cleveland Clinic, said the study’s results shouldn’t be interpreted as a direct translation to EHR safety performance in the real world as outcomes were evaluated through the Leapfrog CPOE test.

She argued that while parallels have been shown between the test and medical error rate, the score a health system receives isn’t a direct relation to how many medical safety events would happen at a hospital.

“It’s a helpful guidepost to enhance EHR systems but not an exact one to one correlation of safety performance,” she said.

However, she argued such studies are still important as “they raise awareness for significant issues and ways to enhance our system.”

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

Health and patient safety coverage at USA TODAY is made possible in part by a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2020/06/02/electronic-medical-records-fail-pick-up-33-errors-study-says/5307917002/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »