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Medication errors, diagnostic mistakes most common EHR errors

Anyone in California seeking medical care has a right to assume their electronic health records (EHRs) will be accurate. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. According to a study referenced in a healthcare industry publication, 30 percents of all patient harm events resulting in malpractice claims involving EHRs were related to medication errors. Diagnostic mistakes were also common.

For the study, researchers looked at medical malpractice claims over a two-year period and reviewed more than 200 claims involving EHR technology. Thirty-one percent of the claims were related to medication errors, another 30 percent were related to complications with treatment, and 28 percent were associated with diagnostic errors. The majority of the EHR errors that resulted in patient harm involved ambulatory care patients. Overall, ambulatory care EHR errors outnumbered inpatient care EHR-related issues for all medical services, except for nursing.

However, cases involving ambulatory care were less likely to be fatal for patients than ones involving EHR issues in emergency or inpatient situations. According to the research team, this may be because ambulatory patients are less susceptible to adverse reactions and in settings where errors can be detected and addressed.

Researchers also discovered that most of the claims involving EHR errors stemmed from user-related errors, not problems related to the technology. A previous 2017 study found that EHR-related malpractice claims with injured patients have steadily been on the rise. Solutions suggested by researchers include more EHR training, restricting use of copy-and-paste functions, and encouraging health IT standardization.

When an unexpected health-related issue might be due to medication errors, a medical malpractice lawyer may initiate a case if there is compelling evidence showing that a healthcare professional entered incorrect information or failed to detect system issues. If a fair settlement can't be reached, a lawyer might secure testimony from medical experts if the case comes before the Medical Board of California for review.

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