Edwards & Kautz
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Study links patient record oversights to pediatric safety errors

A parent seeking medical care for their child in Kentucky should be able to assume that health care professionals will do everything possible to avoid oversights and mistakes. Still, there are times when human error contributes to patient safety risks. Surprisingly, a new study has found that half of all pediatric safety errors are actually attributable to electronic health record (EHR) oversights. The study is based on a review of nearly 10,000 patient safety reports over a five year period.

Researchers found that medication errors, which can sometimes be considered a type of medical malpractice, related to EHR usability were largely related to discrepancies in feedback generated by the system and what was actually appropriate for the patient -- e.g., failing to display alerts if a patient happened to be allergic to a prescribed medication. The study's lead author also notes that EHR display screen clutter may be what's contributing to some of the issues with failing to add certain patient details.

Nearly 40 percent of EHR errors documented in pediatric safety reports played a role in medication mistakes, and more than 18 percent of those errors may have contributed to patient harm. The report based on the study contends that dosing errors may be partially due to the lack of a distinction between adult and pediatric patients by the federal agency tasked with overseeing EHRs. In fact, improper dosing was the cause of approximately 85 percent of all medication errors discovered during the study. Specific issues included missed doses and improper timing.

While the study's author believes clinicians should still trust what's presented in EHRs, he states a need to also verify that information. Should a medication-related or surgical error negatively affect a patient, an attorney may build a medical malpractice case. Depending on the circumstances involved, a lawyer may pursue appropriate legal action to recover expenses related to additional medical care.

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Edwards & Kautz

Edwards & Kautz
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Paducah, KY 42003

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