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Healthcare information technology linked to medication errors

Officials with the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority have been able to attribute precisely 889 medicinal errors between January 1 and June 30 of 2016 to some glitch in its health care-related information technology (HIT) system, a recent report shows. Among the three most common errors made by the HIT systems were a failure to record dosages, providing an extra dose and providing patients with the wrong dose.

HIT systems are heavily relied on in this technologically-inclined era for ordering prescriptions and tracking the administration of drugs. In fact, these systems have built-in mechanisms including such as drug libraries, bar code drug administrative system technology, and smart infusion types of pumps in place to try to avoid these types of errors from occurring.

Despite the fact that the technology was implemented to improve upon patient safety, as is the case with any technology, errors do occur. This is why state officials say that it's critical for front line medical professionals to diligently report any obvious errors they note so that the system can be improved.

Additionally, the state recommends that their HIT staff work with patient-facing medical personnel to better understand and address the issues they're having. This starts with taking new staff and training them on the proper use of HIT before allowing them to use it in dealing with patients. It also involves tracking errors to see what impact, if any, factors such as the system's downtime and alert updates may have on performance.

Making changes to interface design such as using a larger font and all capital letters may be helpful in making it easy to note the difference between drugs. And, reducing the ability for employees to manually modify recommendations may be helpful as well, especially given that more than 33 percent of the errors that were found to have existed centered around human-computer interface issues.

If you have reason to believe that you have fallen victim to a suspected medication error, then a Toledo, Ohio, medical malpractice attorney may be able to advise you in your legal case.

Source:, "State finds hundreds of medication errors linked to healthcare technology," Bill Siwicki, April 10, 2017

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