Study examines usability of electronic health records, safety events

Bottom Line: The usability of electronic health records may be associated with some safety events where patients were possibly harmed.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Electronic health record (EHR) usability is the extent to which EHRs support clinicians in their work and that level of usability can be a point of frustration for some clinicians. Specific usability issues and EHR processes that may contribute to possible patient harm have not been identified.

What and When (Study Measures): An analysis of patient safety reports that mentioned a major EHR vendor or product from 2013 through 2016 from 571 health care facilities in Pennsylvania and from a large mid-Atlantic multi-hospital academic health care system.

How (Study Design): This was an analysis of patient safety reports, which are descriptions of safety events.

Authors: Raj Ratwani, Ph.D., National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, MedStar Health, Washington, D.C., and coauthors

Results: Of 1.735 million reported safety events, 1,956 (0.11 percent) mentioned an EHR vendor or product and were reported as possible patient harm; 557 (0.03 percent) had language suggesting the usability of the EHR may have contributed to some possible patient harm.

Study Limitations: Patient safety reports contain limited information and it is difficult to identify causal factors. The reports also may be subject to bias, inaccuracies and a tendency to attribute blame for an event to the EHR.

Study Conclusions: Additional research is needed to determine any causal relationships between EHR usability, patient harm and frequency.

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For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1171)

Editor's Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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