EHR Defaults Cause Medication, Patient Safety Errors

Jennifer Bresnick | EHR Intelligence | September 5, 2013

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority’s newest analysis shows troubling news for providers who rely on basic EHR shortcuts such as automatically populated default fields.  While pre-filled boxes are intended to save time during data entry, standardize input, and increase efficiency, users often forget to change the default values, leading to potentially serious medication errors that can cause harm to patients.

“Default values are often used to add standardization and efficiency to hospital information systems,” Erin Sparnon, MEng, patient safety analyst for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority explains. “For example, a healthy patient using a pain medication after surgery would receive a certain medication, dose and delivery of the medication already preset by the healthcare facility within the EHR system for that type of surgery.”