EHR Usability Contributes to Possible Patient Harm Events

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Electronic health record usability may contribute to possible patient harm events.
Electronic health record usability may contribute to possible patient harm events.

HealthDay News — Electronic health record (EHR) usability may contribute to possible patient harm events, according to a research letter published in the March 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jessica L. Howe, from MedStar Health in Washington, D.C., and colleagues analyzed patient safety reports from 2013 to 2016 to identify those that explicitly mentioned a major EHR vendor or product.

Two usability experts reviewed reports to assess whether the report contained explicit language to associate the harm report with an EHR usability issue.

The researchers found that 0.11 percent of 1.735 million reported safety events explicitly mentioned an EHR vendor or product and were reported as possible patient harm. Overall, 557 reports (0.03 percent) had language that explicitly indicated that EHR usability contributed to possible patient harm.

Of the 557 reports, harm level analysis showed that the patient was reached and potentially required monitoring to preclude harm, potentially caused temporary harm, potentially caused permanent harm, and could have necessitated intervention to sustain life or could have resulted in death (84, 14, 1, and <1 percent, respectively). Usability challenges occurred during order placement, medication administration, review of results, and documentation (38, 37, 16, and 9 percent, respectively).

"Only a small percentage of potential harm events were associated with EHR usability but the analysis was conservative because safety reports only capture a small fraction of the actual number of safety incidents," the authors write.

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