Electronic Checklists Improve Medication Accuracy

The use of electronic health records (EHRs) that include decision-support tools such as electronic medication checklists, in place of paper-based systems, significantly reduces instances of hospital medication errors, according to a recent study.

“Enhance the Accuracy of Medication Histories for the Elderly by Using an Electronic Medication Checklist,” published in the fall issue of Perspectives in Health Information Management, found that using electronic medication checklists at the time of admission improved accuracy in the attainment of patients’ medication histories.

Conducted at a central Texas hospital, the study focused on elderly patients, noting that issues related to medication errors “are more prevalent among elderly patients, who take more medications and have prescriptions that change frequently.”

Read on for an excerpt from the study. For the full text, visit perspectives.ahima.org.

Study Excerpt

“The occurrence of medication errors in healthcare facilities in the United States is a widely noted problem, and prevention of medication errors has become a critically important national priority.1 In the medical field, an error is defined as “the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended (i.e., error of execution), or the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim (i.e., error of planning).”2 In previous studies, several types of medication errors were identified, including commission errors (addition of a drug not used before admission), omission errors (deletion of a drug used before admission), and incorrect drug dose and/or frequency.3 Medication errors are associated with adverse drug events (ADEs) and with increased risk of patient morbidity and mortality.4–8 However; obtaining accurate medication histories can often be a difficult task for health professionals.9–19 The medication history in the hospital medical record is often incomplete, as 25 percent of the prescription drugs in use are not recorded and 61 percent of all patients have one or more drugs not registered.20 The Institute of Medicine report To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System identified medication errors as the most common type of error in healthcare; medication errors occur commonly in hospitals and account for 1 out of 854 inpatient deaths.21

—Tiankai Wang, PhD; and Sue Biederman, MSHP, RHIA, FAHIMA. “Enhance the Accuracy of Medication Histories for the Elderly by Using an Electronic Medication Checklist.” Perspectives in Health Information Management (Fall 2012): 1-15.

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