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E-health records should play bigger role in patient safety initiatives, researchers advocate
Date:7/19/2011

"Before a nurse gives a medication, he or she takes a portable scanner and positively identifies both the patient and the medication. If there have been any changes in the patient's electronic health record such as new lab work that might advise a change in the medication, or not giving it at all, the nurse will be notified," Shabot said.

Likewise, UT Physicians, the medical group practice of UTHealth, use an electronic health record to help meet The Joint Commission safety goals.

Eric Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., holder of the Griff T. Ross Professorship in Humanities and Technology in Health Care at the UTHealth Medical School and director of The University of Texas Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety, said, "Electronic prescribing is convenient and reduces errors when I prescribe a medicine and when the pharmacist reads the typed (instead of handwritten) prescription. In addition, our electronic record notifies me when lab results are back and I can easily write a test result letter to the patient."

Another example of using an EHR to enhance patient safety would be a mechanism requiring doctors to acknowledge that they have received a test result and a method for tracking their follow-up actions. "This way, you know the doctor has received the information and has had an opportunity to act on it," Sittig said.

"Although EHRs by no means represent all necessary mechanisms to address critical safety problems, they can provide tools to help organizations improve their performance," wrote the authors in the commentary.

The commentary is titled "Application of Electronic Health Records to the Joint Commission's 2011 National Patient Safety Goals."


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Contact: Robert Cahill
Robert.Cahill@uth.tmc.edu
713-500-3030
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Source:Eurekalert  

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