Misuse of technology can lead to medication errors in Pennsylvania

Technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry. It has made hospitals run more efficiently and enabled physicians to perform intricate surgeries that were once considered impossible. Technology can be a double-edged sword, however. If not used properly it can cause a variety of problems, including medication errors.

On the heels of a warning issued by the U.S. Patient Safety Authority regarding the use of electronic health records (EHRs), the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority has also issued a warning of their own to healthcare professionals related to EHRs and computerized physician order entry (CPOE). The watchdog organization reviewed more than 300 adversarial incidents related to the two technology systems. They discovered that a number of medication errors—wrong dosage times, incorrect dosages, outdated dosage values and overdoses—were made when healthcare providers used the default settings on the systems rather than customizing them accordingly. Only four of the incidents cased harm to patients, and only two patients were admitted to the hospital as a result. The medication errors were not always caused by a negligent physician, but sometimes the inability of healthcare professionals to override default values in the systems.

Even a handful of errors such as these is too many. If you or someone you love has suffered because of medication errors, you may want to consult with an attorney. Depending on the circumstances of the situation, the physician or the equipment provider that the physician relied on for medication dosages could be held liable in civil court. You could be entitled to compensation for additional medical expenses and/or pain and suffering.

Source: FierceEMR.com, “Inappropriate use of EHR default values harms patients,” Marla Durben Hirsch, Sep. 11, 2013.