Wednesday, March 9, 2005
The New York Times reports today on recent studies that call into the question the new push for computerized medical records as a means to decreasing medical errors. The new studies were published in the Journal of the American Association (free article). The Times reports,
One paper, based on a lengthy study at a large teaching hospital, found 22 ways that a computer system for physicians could increase the risk of medication errors. Most of these problems, the authors said, were created by poorly designed software that too often ignored how doctors and nurses actually work in a hospital setting.
The likelihood of errors was increased, the paper stated, because information on patients' medications was scattered in different places in the computer system. To find a single patient's medications, the researchers found, a doctor might have to browse through up to 20 screens of information.
Among the potential causes of errors they listed were patient names' being grouped together confusingly in tiny print, drug dosages that seem arbitrary and computer crashes.