An analysis of electronic health record–related patient safety concerns.
Health information technology is being rapidly utilized in the clinical environment, with recent data showing that most hospitals and clinics have implemented some form of electronic health record (EHR). In this context, this report from the Veterans Health Administration's Informatics Patient Safety Office is timely, as it uses a sociotechnical framework that takes into account both technical aspects and human factors engineering principles to analyze 100 safety incidents relating to the EHR. The authors found four categories of system flaws: mismatches between user needs and information displays, errors arising from software modification or updates, failures at the interface between the EHR and other clinical systems, and hidden dependencies within the system itself. Most of these issues were identified long after the EHR was implemented, highlighting the need for ongoing monitoring and optimization of EHRs to ensure their safety capabilities are being maximized. An error caused in part by lack of interoperability between two clinical information systems is discussed in a prior AHRQ WebM&M commentary.