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Electronic Health Care Records: What You Should Know

When you visit the doctor’s office, you may notice your physician using a laptop to take chart notes rather than the traditional standard pen and paper. Electronic health records have slowly replaced manual records in medical institutions across the country. This technological advance is marketed as a more accurate and reliable method of taking patient notes, transferring prescriptions, sharing medical records, ordering lab tests, getting results and documenting med administration. Yet, there have been circumstances where flaws in this technology led to patient injury and even death.

In one case, a woman died of a brain aneurysm in part because a brain scan lab test ordered by the physician never made it to the lab, and the patient did not have the procedure performed. In another case, medication administration start and stop dates were mixed up for patients at a long-term care facility residents did not receive their medication correctly. Other incidents occurred where patient notes did not show up under the right patients or the wrong prescriptions were sent out to the wrong patients.

All of these situations could lead to serious patient harm and are completely preventable. Software companies are working hard to remedy some of these critical flaws in their technology. While electronic health records are a paperless way of keeping track of patients, this method has not been perfected.

Physicians are said to make over 4,000 computer clicks in just one shift of seeing patients. Patients are seen back-to-back and medical professionals are often rushed to diagnose one patient and move on to the other, which can be extremely hazardous. Patients should be aware, ask questions and take an active role in their healthcare.