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The Biggest EHR Patient Related Safety Threats and What To Do About Them

The Biggest EHR Patient Related Safety Threats and What To Do About Them

Just a few years ago, most medical practices operated with paper records. As electronic records moved in to replace paper, the benefits were many. 

Leaving paper files in a room is risky. By digitizing the records, you can keep them under lock and key. You can keep them off site, even place multiple copies on different cloud-based applications. They won’t burn up in a fire. You can also access them from anywhere, at any time. 

But of course, digital has its risks too. 

A recent study shows that a great majority of practices and hospitals now have EHR systems in place. Yet that hasn’t stopped claims from being filed against medical practices; it’s just changed the risks. 

Fifty-eight percent of the claims were caused by user factors, such as copying and pasting notes to a file. 

Fifty percent were caused by system factors, such as failure of support alerts. 

Doctors and other medical practitioners thrive on office shortcuts. They’re busy. And their priority is with the patients, not the paperwork. Copy/paste becomes a best friend. 

Yet forgetting to copy before you paste can mean you insert flawed information into someone’s file. A diagnosis from a previous patient can make its way into another file, for example. And that means errors in treatments and outcomes. It means clinical error. 

How do you solve the problem? Eliminate or lock out the ability to copy/paste in the most crucial areas of an EHR. It forces medical practitioners to take the time and write out the information rather than grabbing erroneous or out of date information and plugging it in. 

It’s also important to keep the process as simple as possible. The more difficult it is, the more a person can miss. According to a report from the PEW Charitable Trusts on Improving Patient Care Through Health IT, to keep EHR records as safe and user-friendly as possible, it’s important to focus in on:

  • The design and layout - an uncluttered layout means it’s easier to locate key information
  • Variability across platforms - the ability for the EHR to move from desktop to laptop, to tablet, to phone, with a real-time data interface
  • Customization - different practices need different information
  • Workflow - this is a matter of understanding the necessities of your organization. Who has access to the data and how do they use it?
  • Training - this includes both initial training and ongoing to ensure everyone is always on the same page when inputting and navigating data

Whether you’re implementing a new EHR process or have been using one for years, it’s important to be aware of the inherent risks within the system and do all you can to compensate for the issues. What you don’t know can hurt you and your patients in a big way. 

Want a second pair of eyes to oversee your process and give you suggestions on how to proceed? That’s what we’re here for. Just ask. 

For IT Strategy, Cloud Conversion, or Help Desk Services reach out to us at Silver Linings Technology 360-450-4759.