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Electronic health records and emergency room errors

A trip to the emergency room can be a frightening experience for anyone. The ER is the last place you want to be, but you trust the doctors and nurses to take care of you properly.

Most ER staffers work with electronic health records, and they might update the computer systems they use or switch them out for newer versions from time to time. There is a learning curve with the introduction of a new system, allowing for mistakes, but the genesis of many emergency room errors is not quite that simple.

ER errors are serious

An ER is usually a very busy place. Staffers, including the physicians, often work long shifts. Patients come in from ambulances, and walk-ins wait for care while those with the most serious issues take precedence. Doctors and nurses move swiftly from case to case and, in between, type notes into whatever computer system they are using. In all the bustle, someone might inadvertently input a wrong number or a last name and age that are similar to those belonging to another patient with a different electronic health record. Now there is a problem because the doctor may order the wrong procedure or medication, endangering the health of the patient who has placed his or her trust in ER personnel.

Confusing displays

Confusing computer displays have been found responsible for mix-ups leading to user error, resulting in a potentially dangerous outcome for the patient. All it takes is making a few wrong keystrokes or misinterpreting the information that comes up on a health record. The pace in the emergency room, which can be frenetic, can make the opportunity for mistakes even greater.

A path to recovery

Emergency room errors can be grounds for medical malpractice. A personal injury attorney will tell you that lawsuits of this kind can be complex and take time. However, anyone who has sufferd harm due to an emergency room error has the opportunity for financial recovery and, hopefully, a return to good health.

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