In this day and age of advanced technology, electronic medical records have taken the healthcare field by storm. Not only does this technology save doctors from filing papers and organizing patient charts, but it speeds up certain processes, such as transmitting electronic prescriptions to the pharmacy. Electronic medical records are designed to minimize errors medical professionals may make due to hard-to-read handwriting, disorganization and other clerical issues. Yet, medical record technology may not be as safe as some may believe.
In fact, glitches and errors in electronic healthcare records have led to injuries and deaths of many across the country. Instances have occurred where lab orders are not transmitted properly to the lab, and certain screening tests are not performed as a result. Lab results may not get back to the physician, and patient notes may be populated under the wrong patient. One faulty software program used in a long-term care facility involved errors with the start and stop dates of medication and patients were getting other residents’ medication as a result of the errors.
A woman who was suffering from consistent migraines later died of an aneurysm. Her doctor had ordered a brain scan prior to her death; however, the order did not transmit properly to the lab and the test was not conducted. In another case, a young girl who suffers from a severe dairy allergy was given a medication containing milk, sending her into complete respiratory distress.
It is critical that patients be aware of these potential errors so they can possibly avoid a deadly medical mistake.