Simple searches of hospital medical records using medical injury keywords are more beneficial in identifying and preventing medical errors, than the use of conventional billing codes. A study at six Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals found that these Google-like searches were effective in reducing errors, leading to recommendations that electronic medical record systems include such search features.
Billing codes are widely used as a way to measure patient safety ratings. The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services uses billing codes to evaluate the quality of care at U.S. hospitals. However, the study at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals found more success with text searches. Researchers reviewed records at six VA hospitals between 1999 and 2006. The records were configured to allow specific keywords. A total of 2,974 patients who had undergone surgery were included in the analysis.