E-Records May Not Be What They Are Cracked up to Be July 10, 2013.

Insurance companies and medical practitioners tout e-records as being the solution to medical mistakes. That’s not always the case.

Though e-records have the potential to increase the quality of care a patient receives, there appear to be some serious issues involved in using them, according to a study published by Health Leaders Media. For instance, the software could misinterpret midnight as noon, which would result in a baby being administered an antibiotic a day late. In another instance, the computer truncated a dosage field. The patient was given too much morphine, which resulted in respiratory arrest. During the course of that study, 171 mistakes led to direct harm or death for patients at the 39 hospitals participating in the nine-week study.

Humans caused at least 46 percent of those mistakes. While it may be difficult to differentiate between technical glitches and human fallibility since people key the information into the system, it should be pointed out that even if doctors or their staff rely on software to prescribe and track patients, they should still double check that patient orders are being followed to the letter.

As for computer error, there are always initial problems and a learning curve for those using it. However, a hospital is not the place to experiment with patients’ lives.

One important thing to note about this study is that researchers asked for voluntary reporting of errors. Consider for a moment how many errors go unreported.

If you have questions about e-record confidentiality, attorney Chris Mellino welcomes you to contact our Cleveland office for a free consultation. You may also download or request Chris’ free, easy-to-read guide to filing a claim in Ohio.