are drug lists a threat to patient safety?


An image to illustrate electronic health records and the issue that drug lists pose a threat to patient safety?
IStock / Stas_V

One-third of the printed drug lists generated automatically from electronic health records had a discrepancy in a new study.

Many patients rely on printed drug lists from electronic health records to follow prescribed medications between clinical visits. However, the study, which examined the electronic health records of a cohort of ophthalmology patients, showed that in one-third of them there was at least one discrepancy in the medications discussed on the doctor's note and those on the medication list.

Electronic health records in ophthalmology

In the study, they used data from the electronic medical records of patients with microbial keratitis between July 2015 and August.

Maria Woodward, M.S., M.D., is a specialist in cornea, an assistant professor of ophthalmology and the lead author of the study. Woodward explained: "Corneal infection is an important condition for the study of ophthalmic drug lists because drugs change rapidly. Because of multiple clinical visits and frequent medication changes. It is imperative to have strong verbal and written communication between professionals and patients who are fighting against corneal infections. "

Woodward added, "This level of inconsistency is a red flag. Patients who have the post-visit summary may be at risk of avoidable medication errors that may affect their cure or be toxicified by medication. "

Why are there discrepancies in the drug list?

According to Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan, moving to EHR has led to improvements in patient care, but this study shows that the tool is not perfect.

Usually, a prescription inserted in the electronic health record triggers a request for the pharmacy and an update to the list of medications. Woodward explains, "Problems arise when a drug is started by an outside provider and continues at the new hospital and when patients need compound medications that should be phoned to a pharmacist at night."

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