For years now, hospitals have experimented with adding new technologies to their current practices, and one of the most popular is that of electronic health records. The digital files that contain medical information for almost any patient have been found to bring a number of improvements to locations around the country, helping to improve accuracy and patient safety alike.
Reduction of potential medical errors
Many hospitals are improving their ability to track medical errors using the technology. After U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer wrote to nearly 300 California hospitals to see how they are working to improve their services, more than half noted the benefits of electronic health records in doing so.
Nearly 5 percent of medical errors involve preventable drug events, where miscommunication leads to the wrong drugs being administered to a patient. However, electronic health records can update instantly and are easy to read, which is said to help a number of health officials gain better insight upon what they need to do to treat a specific patient.
A second common error noted by professionals involves blood stream infections, where catheters improperly inserted can cause problems throughout the rest of the body. One hospital group in San Diego built a specific tool to prevent this in its EHR system, making sure that providers follow specific practices when they implement such procedures.
Helps perfect patient safety scores
The Cincinnati Business Journal added that three nearby hospitals were able to see large leaps in patient safety scores thanks to electronic health records. Putting such records into place has been noted to improve quality of care, specifically allowing for easier understanding of specific medical procedures. Long-term effects of implementing such technology have included reducing patients' lengths of stay by providing more consistent information to workers. Frequent turnover can lead to some confusion in patient care, but having one central location for related information is key to improving care, as any worker can immediately access it.
The next steps regarding EHR regulations should involve a way of reporting errors, Health Data Management added. That way, hospitals and researchers would be able to better understand the frequency and reasoning behind many slip-ups and change procedures accordingly.
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