The discovery in past few years that medical mistakes are the third greatest cause of mortality in the Western States sent worrying ripples through the healthcare industry, but the news is likely merely the top of the iceberg, and much more needs to be done to address this rising health problem.
Researchers Martin Makary and Michael Daniel recently published data in BMJ showing medical mistake mortality exceeded 250,000 yearly — making it the third greatest cause of death, trailing only heart disease and cancer — and are likely to be higher due to system-wide underreporting.
To attain more dependable healthcare systems, the science of enhancing safety should benefit from national and international data sharing, much as clinicians gain from sharing research and innovation on coronary artery disease, melanoma, and influenza.
However, with the help of the emerging success of the Healthcare IT development solutions, recognising the significance of medical error in patient death has increased awareness and influenced collaborations and funding commitments in research and prevention.
Table of Content:
- How Did Medical Errors Rise To Become The Third Greatest Cause Of Death In The Western States?
- What Is A Medical Error In Health Care Organizations?
- The 8 Common Root Causes Of Medication Errors
- What Is Electronic Health Records (Ehr) In Healthcare?
- Why Is Ehr Important?
- The Benefits Of EHRs
Appropriate scientific approaches, beginning with a problem assessment, are crucial for addressing any health threat to patients. This scientific approach should be applied to the problem of medical error as well.
How Did Medical Errors Rise To Become The Third Greatest Cause Of Death In The Western States?
Despite its ubiquity, medical error-related death is not recognised as a cause of death or as a disease. Additionally, the lack of precise data on deaths caused by medical error necessitates a more in-depth investigation and reporting of existing data with healthcare community members.
While we cannot completely eradicate human error, we can better quantify it in order to create safer systems that mitigate its frequency, visibility, and consequences, outlining three steps for developing measures to prevent these types of deaths.
To begin, medical errors need to be made more transparent. Second, safeguards against medical errors must be present. Thirdly, best practices must be disseminated to reduce the frequency of medical errors.
What Is A Medical Error In Health Care Organizations?
A medical mistake is a nightmarish scenario that no physician or medical practice wishes to encounter. While the majority of healthcare professionals and the majority of consumers/clients/patients understand that doctors are human and occasionally make errors, the majority take steps to ensure accuracy in all aspects of patient care.
Regrettably, hundreds of people each year suffer from medical blunders and even preventable deaths. According to a recent study conducted by Johns Hopkins, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Alarmingly, according to data gathered over the course of the eight-year study, medical errors are responsible for nearly 250,000 deaths per year.
Another CDC study noted that adverse medication events alone cost more than $3 billion each year. Adverse medication events were the sixth largest cause of death in the United States in 2014.
Today’s emphasis is on identifying potential errors before their occurrence, particularly prescription errors that can be avoided through medication reconciliation.
Today’s EHR systems have automated artificial intelligence capabilities, which are capable of sorting through huge patient care files. Not long ago, a patient with a chronic disease would have hundreds of pages of paper records. Today’s EHR systems can rapidly sift through data to assess current and historical prescriptions, laboratory tests, treatment plans, diagnoses, and medical procedures, as well as foods that patients should avoid when taking particular medications prior to or following medical treatment or operation.
These figures demonstrate that the bulk of medical errors are not caused by clinicians’ lack of concern, inattention, or open misconduct, but rather by the frequently perplexing lack of communication and access to complete medical records and histories.
The advancement of electronic health record/electronic medical record technologies has the potential to reduce medical errors by enhancing coordination of treatment through data exchange and instant access by any member of a patient’s health care team.
The 8 Common Root Causes Of Medication Errors
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, medical errors have eight frequent root causes, which include the following:
1. Problems With Communication
Medical errors are most frequently caused by disruptions in communication. Whether verbal or written, these conflicts can arise between a physician, nurse, healthcare team member, or patient in a medical practice or healthcare system. Medical errors frequently occur as a result of inadequate communication that misleads proper health information.
2. An Inappropriate Flow Of Health Information
In every hospital context, information flow is vital, but it is especially critical among different service areas. When necessary information does not accompany a patient when they are transferred to another hospital or released from one component or organisation to another, this is referred to as insufficient information flow. Inadequate data flow can result in the following issues:
- Inadequate access to critical information when it is required to influence prescribing decisions.
- Inadequate transmission of laboratory test results.
- Inadequate coordination of medicine orders for care transfer.
3. Problems Of The Human Being
When standards of care, policies, protocols, or procedures are not followed appropriately or efficiently, human problems occur. Several examples include inadequate specimen documentation and labelling. Additionally, knowledge-based errors arise when persons lack the necessary knowledge to give the care required at the moment.
4. Questions Related To Patients
These may include improper patient identification, insufficient patient assessment, consent failure, and insufficient patient education.
5. Organizational Knowledge Transfer
These difficulties may include insufficient training and inconsistent or insufficient teaching for caregivers. Transfer of knowledge is vital in the majority of industries but is more critical when new employees or temporary help are used.
6. Patterns Of Staffing And Workflow
While insufficient staffing does not automatically result in medical errors, it might place healthcare personnel in situations where they are more likely to make a mistake.
7. Technical Errors
Complications or problems with medical devices, implants, grafts, or pieces of equipment are considered technical failures.
8. Inappropriate Policies
Frequently, problems in the care process can be traced back to inadequate documentation and non-existent or insufficient processes.
What Are Electronic Health Records (Ehr) In Healthcare?
A patient’s electronic health record (EHR) is a digital representation of the paper chart. EHRs are dynamic, patient-centred records that make data instantaneously and securely accessible to authorised users. While an EHR system contains a patient’s medical and treatment history, it is designed to go beyond the conventional clinical data obtained in a provider’s office and encompass a broader view of a patient’s care. EHRs are a critical component of health information technology because they can:
- Contain information about a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plans, immunisation dates, allergies, radiological pictures, and laboratory and test results.
- Provide providers with evidence-based tools to aid in their decision-making regarding a patient’s care.
- Streamline and automate provider workflows
One of the primary benefits of an EHR is that authorised physicians can create and maintain health information in a digital format that can be shared with other providers across multiple health care organisations. EHRs are designed to exchange data with other health care providers and organisations – such as laboratories, specialists, medical imaging facilities, pharmacies, emergency rooms, and school and workplace clinics – and hence contain information from all doctors involved in a patient’s treatment.
Why Is EHR Important?
With the traditional physical file folder system, health records might easily be distributed among numerous doctor’s offices. If you relocate to a different office, copies of your files would need to be sent or faxed to your new doctor in order to provide them with a complete picture of your health. You can readily imagine the plethora of potential issues that could arise: a patient forgetting their former office’s contact information, missing or incomplete documents, difficult-to-read handwriting – the list goes on.
EHRs are designed to digitize and standardize your health records across all of your health care providers. Clinicians enter notes into an EHR system so that future providers may readily access, read, and add to them.
EHRs have also been in the spotlight in recent years as a result of the CMS’s “Meaningful Use” regulations, which have pushed hospitals and clinics to adopt digital systems.
Regulations permit credentialed medical assistants to enter data into electronic health record (EHR) systems. Taking on that role can be quite beneficial to the doctors and nurses with whom you work and can help the office function more efficiently for both the healthcare team and the patients. For instance, the doctor can converse with the patient as a medical assistant puts data into the record, obviating the requirement for the doctor or nurse to halt the conversation and type on a laptop in the examination room.
The Benefits Of EHRs
- The capacity to transfer and update information instantly between multiple offices and organisations
- Improved storage and retrieval efficiency
- The ability to communicate multimedia information between sites, such as medical imaging findings
- The capacity to connect records to relevant and updated research sources
- Standardisation of services and patient care is made easier.
- The ability to aggregate patient data in order to manage population health and improve the quality of service
- Provision of decision aids for healthcare professionals
- Reduced effort redundancy
- Long-term cost savings for medical systems
Numerous countries’ governments are collaborating to ensure that all residents have standardised electronic health records that contain the same types of information. The primary impediment to electronic health record adoption is cost.
How EHRs Improve Patient Care?
EHRs have the potential to improve patient care in a variety of ways significantly.
For instance, they can aid in diagnosis by providing providers with access to all of a patient’s health information, providing a holistic view that enables clinicians to diagnose problems more quickly.
Additionally, EHRs can aid in the reduction of medical errors, the enhancement of patient safety, and the promotion of improved outcomes. While EHRs store and transmit data, they also meaningfully alter patient information and offer it to the practitioner at the point of care.
EHRs can also help enhance public health outcomes by giving a consolidated view of a patient population’s health information, which enables doctors to identify and address specific risk factors.
How Can EHR Software Technologies Help To Avoid A Medical Error?
Adapting EHR software has aided in the reduction of medical errors. It contributes to patient safety and the reduction of adverse drug occurrences. Patients can receive better care when health care providers have complete and accurate information. EHR software assists in the diagnosis of disease and the improvement of patient outcomes.
Not only does superior EHR Software keep track of a patient’s medication history and allergies, but it also checks for any difficulties automatically whenever a new drug is supplied. If a medication error is detected, the EHR software immediately alerts the clinician. These automatic alerts contribute to the overall safety of the patient during the treatment process.
The data and information contained in the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) System alert a health care provider in the emergency department of a patient’s life-threatening allergy, allowing medical staff to make necessary care adjustments.
When potential safety concerns arise, EHR Software can alert users. These assists providers in avoiding errors that could have catastrophic repercussions, hence increasing patient safety.
EHR Software is a comprehensive technology that assists clinicians in identifying and resolving operational concerns. In a paper-based environment, identifying such issues could require considerable time and effort.
Additionally, EHR software may aid in risk management by providing clinical alerts, assisting in diagnostic decision-making, and centralising all data and information, including test findings.
Naturally, not every EHR system is created equal. It is critical to select a system that delivers flexibility and ease of use, compatibility, and functionality. Adhere to fundamental guidelines while selecting an EHR system that can actually assist in reducing medical errors.
Hence, select a system that is capable of updating databases and clinical recommendations on a quarterly basis at the very least. A physician should be able to tailor the system for chronic care patients with specialty-specific alerts, warnings, and “ticklers.”
While EHR systems continue to progress, healthcare practitioners must understand that machines have a limited capacity. Attention and response to signals and cautions from humans must be addressed promptly. Medical errors can be reduced in this manner.
Recent research and studies indicate that Electronic Health Records (EHR) Software solutions can help reduce medical errors by more than 50%. The software system’s powerful set of capabilities enables physicians and hospital settings to conduct speedy research on medications to ascertain their numerous negative effects. Additionally, these systems formulate established standard dosages of medications, ensuring the highest level of patient safety. Adapting EHR software can undoubtedly assist in identifying any red flags during the treatment process in order to improve patient outcomes.