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PSNet: Patient Safety Network
Journal Article

Effect of restriction of the number of concurrently open records in an electronic health record on wrong-patient order errors: a randomized clinical trial.

Adelman JS, Applebaum JR, Schechter CB, et al. JAMA. 2019;321:1780-1787.

Having multiple patient records open in the electronic health record increases the potential risk of wrong-patient actions. This randomized trial tested two different electronic health record configurations: one allowed up to four patient records to be open at a time, and the other allowed only one to be open. Among the 3356 clinicians with nearly 4.5 million order sessions, there were no significant differences in wrong-patient orders. However, the investigators noted that clinicians in the multiple records group placed most orders with just one record open. A post hoc analysis determined that the rate of errors increased when orders were placed with multiple records open. A related editorial highlights the tradeoffs between safety and efficiency and argues for examining the context of the two configurations, including throughput and clinician satisfaction. A previous PSNet perspective discussed assessing and improving the safety of electronic health records.