New report: EHRs not immune to technical, human error; rigorous monitoring essential

A report just published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association asserts that even if EHRs were not still relatively new, they are not exempt from the glitches all software can be prone to.  Researchers evaluated data from the Veterans Health Administration which oversees a non-punitive, voluntary reporting program to encourage employees to report EHR-related safety incidents.  The researchers focused on a set of almost 350 patient safety incidents that occurred between 2009 and 2013.  The research team found that errors occurred because of both technical problems, and problems with how employees interpreted or used the technology.  Technical problems most frequently related to how information is displayed, to software modifications and upgrades, and to transfer of data between different parts of the EHR system.

The researchers advise healthcare providers to implement robust programs to track and evaluate technical and human errors that occur in the context of EHR use.  They suggest that providers incorporate the concepts set forth in the SAFER Guides issued in January 2014 by the ONC in setting up their monitoring systems.

For more information see
Modern Healthcare article at “Complicated, confusing EHRs pose serious patient safety threats”
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association report at “An analysis of electronic health record-related patient safety concerns,” also available in pdf form
— the SAFER Guides

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