Article published by : Max Health on Friday, November 30, 2012

Category : General Health

Electronic Health Records Enhance Patient Care and Reduce Errors

Medication errors cause serious problems for many people every year. Medication errors include combining medications that cannot mix together, being prescribed the wrong medication or taking the wrong dose of a medication. These errors can have major effects on patient health and can make a sick person even sicker. The medical profession sometimes tries to come up with ways to prevent medication errors, and one of these ways is to use electronic medication checklists.

New study shows electronic records enhance medication reconciliation

Some doctors handwrite medication histories but according to a new study from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality there are fewer errors when a doctor has an electronic medication history. Medication reconciliation is when the doctor compares new medications to the ones that the patient already takes. When the doctor does not do this properly, medication errors result and patients suffer.

The problem is that medication histories are hard to put together when the doctor or other medical professional has to look back in all of the records. Often patients are taking more medications than the handwritten history reflects. The study shows that 61 percent of patients take one or more medications that are not listed, and 25 percent of medications are not recorded.

When patients are admitted to the hospital or clinic the only data that the medical professionals receive in regards to the medications that the patient is taking is from the patients themselves or their caregivers. For many patients, especially elderly patients, this is not the best way to retrieve this information. About one-third of patients experience medication discrepancies upon admission and transfer between care sites in the hospitals. About 14 percent of patients experience this upon discharge.

How the profession can improve

One way to prevent medication errors and improve patient care in the health care industry is to use electronic checklists. Not only do electronic checklists stay with the patient's records over time, but they reduce other types of medical errors, particularly those related to the inability to read a doctor or nurse's handwriting. When the patient has to see a variety of people, their electronic record will help to make sure everyone knows what medications the patient takes.

It is difficult, but health care professionals can also look at prescription histories from pharmacies and other medication providers to help to fill the gaps in patient's memories. Another method of finding out what prescriptions patients are taking is to use bar code technology to scan pill bottles that patients already have.

While medical professionals try to find ways to decrease medical errors, they still happen. The system is not perfect, but patients that are harmed by medication errors deserve recovery. A personal injury or attorney can help injured patients seek compensation for the harms they have suffered.

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By: Max Health

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