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Health care information technology and drug errors

Health care information technology and drug errors

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2021 | Medical Malpractice

Researchers with the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (PPSA) spearheaded a study on health care information technology (HIT) systems a few years ago to determine whether HIT systems were to blame for the nearly 900 medicinal error cases in the state in the first six months of 2016.

Their research led to some alarming discoveries. It shed light on how these systems cause some adverse events more than others.

What do HIT systems do?

These are essentially drug tracking systems. Health care providers primarily use them for prescription drug or controlled substance inventory control. The systems rely on the use of barcodes to track the location of these medications. Medical providers can also use the onboard resources HIT systems have to learn more about the medications that they prescribe. Developers of HIT systems once touted them as being the key to improving patient safety.

HIT systems make mistakes

The PPSA researchers discovered that HIT systems often make mistakes. They determined that three of the most common ones include:

  • Failing to log administered doses
  • Not accurately noting the correct dosage
  • Calling for the incorrect dosage for the patient at hand

The concerns that the PPSA discovered with HIT systems are particularly alarming as they can cause adverse patient outcomes.

Medical providers can minimize HIT system errors

The PPSA investigators honed in on some proactive measures that health care providers can take to reduce HIT medication error rates. They found that it’s key for staff members to undergo extensive training on using HIT systems before using this technology with actual patients.

The researchers also suggested that medical facilities keep a log of the errors they uncover and revisit them to see what approaches they might use to minimize the chances of them happening again. This makes sense considering how researchers determined that at least one-third of the drug errors that occurred were attributable to human-computer interaction issues.

Did provider or technological negligence cause your drug error?

Medication errors can result in a decline in your health or claim your life. You may be able to hold the medical team member or manufacturer of the technology that resulted in the error liable for the complications you suffered at their hands.