Order Entry System Presents Patient Safety Challenges

computer%20room.jpgComputerized order entry systems could soon be in place in many hospitals in Indiana. These will make patient record-keeping more efficient, and enhance patient safety. However, a new study shows that they may also have some unintended consequences that could be deadly for patients.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were studying whether the systems would be able to catch and prevent a deadly combination of drugs from being prescribed. The combination included the anticlotting medication warfarin and an antibiotic. They found that the system was able to work effectively and prevent the combination from pre-prescribed. However, there were at least four cases in the study where this combination of drugs was actually necessary for the patient, but the system wouldn’t’ allow it.

In short, the computer system was so effective at stopping the deadly combination from being prescribed, that it actually delayed treatment in the four cases where the combination was actually necessary. Ultimately, staff at the hospital was able to get around the computer system, and allow the patient access to this combination of drugs. But the process was cumbersome, and illustrated just how much we still need to know about making these systems as effective and efficient as we need.

What this study does illustrate is the naiveté in assuming that computerized order entry systems are perfect as they are. Hospitals and healthcare professionals must know that implementing computerized order entry systems is a long drawn out process which will include much trial and error. In this study, it became obvious that the system needed to be reconfigured to make it easier for it to be overridden in case of an exception. Obviously, these are individual decisions to make, and the same kind of tweaks to one system will not work in all situations.

The Indiana medical malpractice attorneys at Miller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy represented victims injured due to medical malpractice around Indiana.