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Do electronic systems prevent medical mistakes from occurring?

When you walk into your doctor’s office in Corinth, you are likely to find that those shelves of paper charts are gone. That’s because the medical industry is entering into the electronic age, where everything is stored inside a computer system. Electronic records will lower the number of medical errors according to the government but is this claim the truth?

In 2010, a baby died as a result of an error made by a staff member at a hospital. At another hospital an electronic system with a glitch exposed patients to harm when it printed out prescriptions that were not correct. Luckily, the prescriptions were for drugs and dosages that were below the needs of the patients. Another system at a different hospital in another state mixed up patient charts and doctors’ treatment. It is unknown whether that glitch created a worsened medical condition for some patients, but most people would agree that it exposed patients to great harm.

While the Food and Drug Administration says that such issues are uncommon, it should be noted that at least six people have died and 44 people have been injured through an electronic error. It seems that one personal injury or death would be one too many and a red flag for hospitals and doctors that their electronic system should be reviewed.

For people who rely on these medical systems to provide them with the medication and care that they need, such mistakes could expose them to great risk. It would be a wise idea for Corinth healthcare providers to evaluate these systems carefully before implementing them. Doing so could expose problems with the system that could be fixed before patients are affected.

Source: Kaiser Health News, “Health Technology’s ‘Essential Critic’ Warns Of Medical Mistakes,” Jay Hancock, Feb. 18, 2013

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