Though electronic health records have the ability to warn users about adverse drug interactions, allergic reactions and other events stemming from medication errors, the fact is that they still miss a sizeable number of these errors. Residents of West Virginia should know that a study was conducted on EHR performance in 2,000 hospitals in the U.S. between 2009 and 2018; the results are not necessarily good.

Researchers from the University of Utah Health, Harvard University and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital were involved in the study. Using the CPOE Evaluation Tool developed by the Leapfrog Group, researchers created over 8,600 hypothetical scenarios to see how well the EHR systems would be able to detect medication errors. In 2009, the EHRs missed 46% of them. In 2018, they missed 33% of the errors: an improvement, but still unacceptable.

One of the study’s authors has stated clearly that if, for example, the airline industry suffered from software failure during one out of every three flights, hardly anyone would board a plane. Yet failures in EHR performance continue to be tolerated even though medication errors can lead to injury and death.

Hospitals must take charge in improving the situation. For one thing, the choice lies with hospitals as to what drug-related decision supports they want to switch on with an EHR system.

Inappropriate actions, or inaction, on the part of medical professionals can become grounds for a medical malpractice claim. Proving negligence is, of course, only one step. Negotiating for a settlement that covers monetary and non-monetary losses can be difficult as well, so victims who intend to file a claim may want legal assistance.