EHR difficulties lead to poor safety performance

When EHR systems are more difficult to use, the technology can be less likely to catch medical errors, according to research from University of Utah Health. 

A team of researchers studied EHR systems at 112 U.S. hospitals to assess the correlation between the technology's reliability in detecting medical errors and user satisfaction. 

The researchers found that EHR systems that were rated as being difficult to operate didn't perform well in safety tests. 

According to the study, when users rated EHRs poorly, they said the systems were difficult to operate, hard to learn, slow or inefficient. 

When the user reported difficulties with their systems, EHRs were less likely to flag drug-drug interactions, a patient's allergies to drugs, duplicate orders, excessive dosing or other harmful medication errors, the study found.

"Hospitals and health systems have spent more than $100 billion on EHRs over the last decade, and most believe that these systems are completely safe and usable but that is not necessarily the case," David Classen, MD, the study's corresponding author and a professor of internal medicine at Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health, said in a Sept. 11 news release. "Hospitals should annually perform a safety check on their system to assure it is safe."

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