Study Examines Usability of Electronic Health Records, Safety Events

JAMA

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 11 A.M. (ET), TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2018

Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Raj Ratwani, Ph.D., email Ann Nickels at Ann.C.Nickels@medstar.net. The full study is available on the For The Media website.

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Bottom Line: The usability of electronic health records may be associated with some safety events where patients were possibly harmed.

Why The Research Is Interesting: Electronic health record (EHR) usability is the extent to which EHRs support clinicians in their work and that level of usability can be a point of frustration for some clinicians. Specific usability issues and EHR processes that may contribute to possible patient harm have not been identified.

What and When (Study Measures): An analysis of patient safety reports that mentioned a major EHR vendor or product from 2013 through 2016 from 571 health care facilities in Pennsylvania and from a large mid-Atlantic multi-hospital academic health care system.

How (Study Design): This was an analysis of patient safety reports, which are descriptions of safety events.

Authors: Raj Ratwani, Ph.D., National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, MedStar Health, Washington, D.C., and coauthors

Results: Of 1.735 million reported safety events, 1,956 (0.11 percent) mentioned an EHR vendor or product and were reported as possible patient harm; 557 (0.03 percent) had language suggesting the usability of the EHR may have contributed to some possible patient harm.

Study Limitations: Patient safety reports contain limited information and it is difficult to identify causal factors. The reports also may be subject to bias, inaccuracies and a tendency to attribute blame for an event to the EHR.

Study Conclusions: Additional research is needed to determine any causal relationships between EHR usability, patient harm and frequency.

For more details and to read the full study, please visit the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2018.1171)

Editor’s Note: Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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