Survey finds that EHRs many times do not catch medication errors

A recent survey report released last month by Leapfrog Group found that many EHR systems do not catch medication errors. Almost 40 percent of potentially harmful drug orders weren’t flagged as dangerous by the systems, Leapfrog found. These included medication orders for the wrong condition or in the wrong dose based on things like a patient’s size, other illnesses or likely drug interactions. Meanwhile, systems missed about 13 percent of errors that could have killed patients.

Medication errors can often times cause serious harm to patients – and even death. Many hospitals try to prevent them with the use of electronic health records (EHR) systems. But these methods are far from foolproof, according to this new report.

According to 2015 figures from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, about 1 of every 20 patients in hospitals suffers harm because of medications. Of those, the agency estimates, half are avoidable.

Meanwhile, in a push to improve patient safety and health care quality, the federal government has been encouraging hospitals to adopt electronic health records — particularly with medication ordering systems — thanks to parts of the 2009 stimulus package and 2010 health reform. But there’s been pushback from many doctors and advocates, who say design issues can make the software difficult to use or even counterproductive.