Electronic Medical Records and Patient Safety

This essay looks at the ways switching to electronic medical records increase the efficiently of healthcare while reducing the risk to patients.

Keeping patients safe is one of the top priorities for any medical institution. Medical care has its risks, but reducing those risks is crucial to a successful hospital. Unfortunately, mistakes happen during care. Whether because a prescription is mislabeled or because some small step is made during a complex surgeries.

While reducing or medicating mistakes has always been important, in recent years there has always been a push in decrease risks while eliminating inefficiencies has become a national priority. Increasing the use of electronic medical records has been shown to increase patient safety. EMRs increase the quality of care because of the wealth of information available to the medical professionals. They also reduce overhead. By eliminating the cost of creating and maintaining paper records, staff has more time to actually care for patients. Medical records also reduce the amount of incomplete record keeping and mistakes. Some studies have shown that medical costs could be reduced by 15-20% by switching to a universal electronic recordkeeping standard.

Switching to electronic medical records also allows medical organization to quickly and efficiently audit the quality of care that patients are getting. In 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services created Patient Safety Organizations. These are government approved grouped authorized to monitor, track and report patient safety information without fear of legal discovery. The goal is to create a framework to report issues and help health care providers improve care and reduce risk. The HHS’s website states: “Patient Safety Rule enable PSOs that work with multiple providers to routinely aggregate the large number of patient safety events that are needed to understand the underlying causes of patient harm from adverse events and to develop more reliable information on how best to improve patient safety.”

These audits provide an important source of unbiased and constructive information. PSOs are able to provide crucial context to this data along with education, best practices and protocol development, proactive risk assessment, and root cause analytics. By working with a PSO, doctors, clinics, and hospitals are able to go about the business of getting people healthy. By moving to electronic medical records, healthcare providers will be able to work more efficiently while increasing the quality of care and the safety of patients.