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The Detroit Medical Center Pioneers New EMR System Preventing Medication Mistakes

DMC 100% Electronic Medication Verification Will Help Eliminate Errors Like The One That Nearly Killed Dennis Quaid's Babies

DETROIT, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- During a highly emotional appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show Tuesday (March 10), Hollywood actor Dennis Quaid warned that "computerized record-keeping and bar coding in hospitals" could have prevented the medication error that nearly killed his infant twins in 2007. While calling for a paperless system of "medication verification" that could eliminate such dangerous medication mistakes in hospitals forever, Quaid told Winfrey: "That's going to save lives - a lot of lives!"

Quaid's stark description of the "medical nightmare" he endured after his twins were given 1,000 times too much of a blood-thinning drug at a Los Angeles hospital electrified the audience, which responded enthusiastically to his suggestion that hospitals should immediately implement electronic records in order to prevent medication tragedies caused by handwriting-linked mistakes.

At the Detroit Medical Center, the good news for patients is that the "paperless" electronic medical records system Dennis Quaid advocates has already been up and running. EMR and Medication verification scanning began in the first DMC hospitals and Emergency Departments April 2006, with all of its hospitals completing the project in May 2007.

The pioneering EMR breakthrough, in use throughout the DMC hospitals, requires that physician's orders, test results and other patient records be collected and processed online. The new technology reduces the risk of potentially dangerous medication errors by up to 90 percent, since it prohibits all handwriting in the prescribing and dispensing of drugs.

The new 100% Electronic Medication Verification for managing medications calls for repeated scanning of electronic barcodes by caregivers, with verified accuracy-checks when the medication is ordered, dispensed and then given to the patient. The highly reliable DMC verification system is based on a proven formula for preventing medication errors: "Right patient, right drug, right dose, right time and right route."

In May 2007, the DMC's paperless record-keeping system, powered by Kansas City, MO-based Cerner Corporation, became fully operational in all 8 hospitals. "This is a significant step forward in delivering better care to hospital patients," said Dr. Leland Babitch, Chief Medical Information Officer at the DMC.

Babitch said there is also a great deal of evidence to show that EMR systems reduce medical errors. "Recent national studies show that at least 7 percent of hospital patients are affected by these errors," he added. "The data also show clearly that effectively managed EMR systems can eliminate most of them."

Babitch said medication mistakes in particular are a problem, and that they adversely affect one out of every 50 patients now admitted to U.S. hospitals. "Many of the mistakes involve handwriting-related issues," he said. "But the new EMR system prohibits physicians and other caregivers from using handwriting at all in the care of patients, which is a major step forward.

"With more than 93,000 patients admitted to DMC hospitals each year, finding ways to reduce the rate of errors is of paramount concern for all of us."

Because electronic processing of prescriptions and other medical information can usually prevent handwriting and reading mistakes (often the cause of significant injuries in medical treatment), EMR is "an extremely effective tool" for reducing errors, according to Babitch. Such errors cause as many as 98,000 accidental deaths in U.S. hospitals each year, according to recent national estimates, while also triggering up to $200 billion in annual economic losses.

DMC President and CEO Michael Duggan noted that the recent introduction of EMR is only the latest in a long series of pioneering breakthroughs for the eight hospitals in the system. "With the launch of electronic medical record-keeping, the DMC is once again leading the nation in pioneering technology designed to improve medical care for patients," said Duggan.

"DMC physicians conducted the world's first successful pump-assisted open-heart surgery here in the 1950s," he added, "and DMC researchers only a few decades later synthesized the first effective AIDS drug [AZT]. With the installation of EMR throughout all eight of our hospitals, the DMC has once again broken new ground in the continuing effort to make treatment better for hospital patients."

Dr. Thomas Malone, DMC Harper University Hospital and Hutzel Women's Hospital president, noted that "study after study shows that EMR can have a major impact in reducing the medical errors that often occur when doctors write out prescriptions by hand, or when dispensing nurses misread their instructions on medical charts.

"There's no question that the yearly toll caused by medical errors is one of the great tragedies of modern medicine," he added. "But there's a great deal of research out there to show that the kind of electronic record-keeping now taking place daily at the DMC can eliminate a high percentage of these potentially lethal mistakes."

Mike Valentine, Cerner executive vice president and U.S. general manager, noted that "The DMC's long-standing commitment to using technology to improve patient care puts it in the top percentage of healthcare organizations nationwide that have automated time-consuming and error-prone paper-based processes.

"We commend the leadership and clinicians at the DMC for their continued dedication to seeking out innovations that allow them to improve the quality of care they provide to patients," said Valentine.

In addition to protecting patients from the risk of errors, the DMC's new system "greatly enhances medical treatment by providing physicians with instantaneous access to the patient's complete medical record," said DMC family doctor JoAnn Riggins, the Physician Liaison on the Clinical Transformation Team which oversaw implementation of the EMR.

"There's no doubt that this is a major step forward for medical care in Detroit," said Dr. Riggins. "Before the implementation of EMR, I would have had to go into the hospital, or I would have had to sit there on the phone with the nurse reading everything on a patient's chart to me. And that would have taken up a lot of the nurse's time, which could be better spent out there on the floor talking to patients.

"But now I can see the entire chart and all the different medical forms for myself at a glance, just by logging onto the EMR system. And I can also review all of the evidence-based medical data related to a patient's condition, simply by touching a few buttons. Having that information all in one place and readily accessible is a big advantage for our patients.

"The EMR system is an extremely powerful tool for doctors, nurses and clinicians - and it's already helping us to improve patient-care throughout the Detroit Medical Center."

The Detroit Medical Center operates nine hospitals and institutes, including Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Harper University Hospital, Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, Hutzel Women's Hospital, Kresge Eye Institute, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, Sinai-Grace Hospital and DMC Surgery Hospital.

The Detroit Medical Center is proud to be the Official Healthcare Services Provider of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Shock, Detroit Ignition and Detroit Grand Prix.

Established as a nonprofit corporation in 1985, the Detroit Medical Center is a leading regional health care system with a mission of excellence in clinical care, research and medical education.

SOURCE Detroit Medical Center
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