Can the increasing use of electronic records at hospitals and other medical facilities result in more medical mistakes? According to a recent article from Medscape, electronic health records in emergency departments could be leading to preventable medical errors. In most circumstances, we might assume that the use of electronic health records would help healthcare facilities to avoid the kinds of mistakes that result from human error. However, as the article suggests, human error can still factor into electronic health databases—and in fact might be more of an issue than before the age of electronic health records.
Wrong Files, Wrong Clicks, and Misinformation
It is all too easy, as the article intimates, for a mouse to slip and for an emergency room physician to click on the wrong file or to enter a dosage number that is much larger than it is supposed to be. At the same time, other employees tasked with entering information such as symptoms into a patient’s file might misread a name or enter that information into the wrong section, resulting in a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. To be sure, “these are easy mistakes to make,” and “as ER doctors and nurses grapple with the transition to digitized record systems, they seem to happen more frequently,” according to the article.