The use of electronic health records have streamlined the way that many hospitals in New Jersey diagnose and treat their patients. By laying out patients’ medical history, the drugs they are taking, allergies they have and so on, they can even warn doctors about possible medication errors. Yet the system has its flaws. A study published in JAMA has found that EHRs actually fail to detect about one third of these errors.
The study looked at the EHRs of more than 2,000 hospitals nationwide between the years 2009 and 2018. Then, using the CPOE Evaluation Tool, researchers came up with 8,600 simulated scenarios to evaluate EHR performance. It turns out EHRs only alerted doctors to about 66% of potential medication errors in 2018. Though this was an improvement compared to 2008, when EHRs only detected 54% of errors, the percentage is still unacceptable.
Researchers studied nine EHR vendors and found no significant difference in performance between the EHR types. However, it was between hospitals that performance widely varied. This is largely because hospitals have the freedom to choose what decision support systems to turn on within the EHR system.
If, through some software failure, the EHR does not warn doctors about a potential error, patients may suffer from an adverse drug interaction and be injured or even killed as a result. Under medical malpractice law, such an error, if it was clearly the result of negligence, can form the basis for a claim.
Victims or the family, if the victim died, may want to consult an attorney before beginning the claims process. An attorney may have investigators look into the matter and hire medical experts to help determine how much plaintiffs are eligible for in compensation. The attorney may then negotiate for a reasonable settlement.