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Medical errors and EMR technology

For surgical patients in New Mexico and around the country, the late afternoon often presents the greatest risk of medical error. Many physicians and other care workers exchange shifts at the end of the traditional workday, leading to plenty of opportunity for information to get lost in communication. How medical professionals communicate when transferring a patient from the care of one staff member to another plays a crucial role in the rate of medical errors.

Shift changes in which information is exchanged hastily can result in important patient information being lost. A letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine recommended that hospitals use technology to improve communication between team members during shift changes. Electronic medical records can prevent medical errors by preserving patient information in a convenient and easy to read format. Electronic records are stored on web-based applications that can easily be accessed by all authorized personnel.

The greatest benefit of electronic medical record technology is that it allows team members to highlight the most important details from a patient's record for immediate visibility. A study of electronic medical record use in over 5,000 patient cases in a Boston hospital found that the use of EMR technology significantly decreased the rate of medical mistakes made in a hospital setting. This technology could solve the biggest problem presented by shift-based medical care designed to keep doctors from becoming sleep deprived. Electronic medical records make it possible for all medical team members to remain on the same page, even when multiple shift changes occur within a day.

Medical negligence that results in lasting damage could be justification for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Negligent hospitals may be responsible for providing compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages associated with a medical error. From poor communication to a failure to store important patient information, there are a variety of mistakes that could render a hospital liable for damages.

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