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Medical errors are a great concern for every organization and practitioner. It’s exacerbated by a commonly repeated and factually untrue statement that “medical errors are the third leading cause of death”. The rate is not quite that high according to current statistics. However, medical error statistics are still far higher than we’d like. The good news is that new technology is available in your EHR and prescription tools that can help your organization avoid the most common causes of medical error.
According to the Institute of Medicine, medical errors result in fatalities as many as 100,000 times per year. Even in cases where medical errors are not fatal, they directly impact the ability to deliver positive outcomes for patients. These cases can erode patient trust, as well.
Medication errors result in as many as 9,000 fatalities per year in the United States. Preventing medical errors and looking for solutions in how to reduce medication errors is a must for every healthcare organization. Studies show that EHR technologies help reduce errors and, with supporting prescription tools, healthcare organizations can decrease medication errors, as well.
In this post, we’ll discuss how EHR technologies help organizations spot and avoid medical errors. We’ll pinpoint the most common medical errors and you’ll learn strategies to help reduce these mistakes in your organization.
How Can EHR Technologies Help to Avoid Medical Error?
EHR has been shown to reduce medical errors and, when prescription tools are added to your EHR solution, it provides a robust way to reduce medication errors, as well. Here are a few ways that your EHR improves the process:
- Help Reduce Diagnostic Errors. With all the records and history in one place, diagnosis becomes more streamlined and misdiagnosis is less likely to occur.
- Information Sharing. EHR records can be available for ER visits and shared with other providers for more detailed patient history.
- Allergy and Medication Alerts. Providers are alerted in cases where the patient may be allergic to medication or may be currently taking conflicting medication.
- Potential Safety Issues Are Noted. Patient history with previous conditions, injury, and medication are all noted to avoid possible safety issues in common therapies.
- Error Reporting. With a robust EHR solution, organizations can more easily flag and analyze errors that might occur from keying mistakes or other human errors.
One of the most common reasons for medical error is lack of communication, either between providers or between the provider and patient. Many patients are not forthcoming with their medical history. They may not mention their past diagnosis or the medications they take.
Patients don’t have the medical knowledge to recognize possible drug interactions in most cases. A robust EHR and prescription solution will track patient’s prescriptions and history to give providers the most comprehensive view of their current and past health history.
What Are the Most Common Medical Errors?
The most common medical errors are due to diagnosis or failure to diagnose. In these cases, errors might be due to a failure to address abnormal findings in previous tests or a failure to order diagnostic tests based on the presenting symptoms. With a robust EHR in place, providers can be alerted to these issues.
Communication is often a factor in medical errors. This includes a lapse in communication with previous providers and with the patient. Medical errors can also arise from previous abnormal tests not being read or followed up on, whether by a previous physician or the current organization.
Medication errors are one of the more common issues, especially when patients see multiple providers. This makes it especially important for providers to use a solution that includes electronic prescription solutions to access the patient’s prescription history and current medications.
Strategies for Reducing Medical Errors
The most effective learning tool is past mistakes. Your EHR has reporting functions that can help you pinpoint past errors, or near misses, and assess how they occurred. Or more importantly, what protocols you can put in place to avoid those errors in the future.
Communication is also essential. For healthcare organizations, your EHR can support best practices in communicating with and engaging patients. Engaged patients take an active part in their health care, are more likely to follow treatment recommendations, and are more forthcoming about symptoms and other health information. In short, the better communication, the more robust patient history, which leads to better outcomes.
How EHRs Can Reduce Costly Mistakes
EHRs allow your organization to coordinate care more efficiently. You can communicate with the patient, as well as other physicians and specialists the patient may be seeing. Keeping medical records up to date means that providers can easily see all lab tests and previous history to get a fuller picture of the patient’s current health and best treatment options.
Another benefit is in patient engagement. EHR solutions can streamline the process for the staff, eliminating the barrier between patients and their providers. In the past, patients would call the front desk to set appointments and ask questions. With a patient portal, they can message their physician directly, set appointments, and even have access to educational materials on their health and any current treatment plans.
- EHR technologies help reduce errors and, with supporting prescription tools, healthcare organizations can decrease medication errors, as well.
- Robust EHR solutions can help reduce diagnostic errors.
- EHR tools can help organizations improve communication and patient engagement.