Study: EHR-Related Safety Issues Linger Long After Implementation

Staff Writer | iHealthBeat | June 23, 2014

Patient safety issues stemming from electronic health record systems continue long after implementation, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Modern Healthcare reports (Rice, Modern Healthcare, 6/20).  For the study, researchers used the Veterans Health Administration's Informatics Patient Safety Office to analyze EHR-related safety concerns.  According to Medical Daily, VA implemented its EHR system in 1999 and has since maintained a voluntary reporting system to collect and examine safety issues related to EHRs.

The researchers culled 100 closed patient safety investigations related to the EHR system that occurred between August 2009 and May 2013. The investigations covered 344 incidents (Scutti, Medical Daily, 6/20). The researchers reviewed the information for safety issues related to EHR technology, as well as human and operational factors, such clinical workflow demands, organizational guidelines and user behaviors (BMJ release, 6/20).  The researchers found that 74 events were related to unsafe EHR technology. The events included:

  • Computer glitches;
  • False alarms;
  • "Hidden dependencies," or situations in which a change in one part of an EHR system inadvertently changes integral aspects in another part of the system; and
  • System failures...