Electronic records are supposed to reduce medical errors, right?

Those who advocate for electronic medical records cite a decreased incidence of medical errors.

The VA’s universal EMR, VistA, has been hailed as a model to aspire to. That confidence was recently shaken by an AP report, which disclosed a “software glitch” which exposed patients to wrong doses of medications.

One example included heparin, a blood thinner that requires close monitoring. Other problems included vital signs, active medications, and laboratory data being shown under the wrong patient’s name.

Although no one was harmed, these are serious, and potentially deadly, mistakes.

This clearly isn’t a shining moment of EMR proponents, and goes to show that just because a system is digital doesn’t automatically make them better. It’s another reason why we should be vigilant in ensuring the quality of the current health IT infrastructure before pouring millions of federal dollars into it.

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