"The way the systems are set up, it can actually predispose to higher error rates," said Jesse Pines, who directs the Office for Clinical Practice Innovation at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
The ER's culture and pace, for instance, can amplify the risks of human error that stem from an already less user-friendly system.
Think of the emergency physician who, reaching the end of a hectic 12-hour shift, looks for the record of a patient he
types in the man's last name, clicks and writes medical instructions--not realizing that he'd accidentally pulled up the file of another patient with the same last name and similar age, who was admitted five minutes before.
In fairness, electronic records have resolved many safety concerns, Pines
They've rendered obsolete issues like misreading doctors' handwriting.
But because doctors don't decide what a hospital buys, designs often emphasize what administrators or technology officials want, Pines
Despite these concerns, Pines
said, it's early.
With time, companies will address kinks, so that patient safety issues diminish.
"Think about where we were even 30 years ago with cars.
Cars are rapidly innovating to become safer and more efficient and I think we can expect to see the same transformation in the electronic health record space," Pines