Policymakers work to decrease hospital medical mistakes

A large percentage of Illinois medical malpractice cases are a result of medication errors. Medications prescribed in hospitals, doctor’s clinics and nursing homes can cause a great deal of harm to a patient if they are given the wrong medication or wrong dosage. Policymakers are working to curb the amount of injuries caused by medication error by pushing hospitals to update old-fashioned paper records with electronic records.

Electronic records allow the clinic to utilize a “patient verification screen” containing a photo of the child. That way, doctors are not only referring to the record itself but an image of the child when placing the order. In one hospital that implemented the electronic records system incidents involving patient mix-ups decreased from 12 to three.

Although such improvements in the record keeping process have helped, it’s still not a perfect system. Doctors can confuse charts when multiple records are up on the screen at the same time. “You can think you’re in one person’s charge, but really be in someone else’s, said the chief quality officer at a Colorado hospital.

One study conducted in 2009 showed that the misplaced medication orders were the second-most common factor contributing to a patient receiving care meant for another patient. Implementing the electronic records is one way to decrease the number of mistakes. Patients can also work to decrease the chances of falling victim to a mistake of this kind. Patients are encouraged to be sure you understand the general treatment plan. If a medication is prescribed that you were not aware of, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Can patient photos help cut medical errors?” Amy Norton, June 4, 2012

Medication Errors


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