One study of malpractice claims published this year, by safety researchers for a Harvard-affiliated malpractice insurance group, CRICO, produced an unsettling snapshot of the problem. The researchers sifted through a large database of malpractice claims from Boston and other health care centers around the country, looking for cases in which the use or misuse of electronic heath records was suspected of causing harm.
They found 147 instances in which electronic health records contributed to “adverse events” that affected patients — half of them designated as serious. The cases were culled from a one-year period of newly filed malpractice claims overlapping 2012 and 2013, a total pool of around 5,700 cases.Forty-six of those events resulted in patient death, CRICO officials told the Globe — a toll that before now has not been disclosed publicly.
RELATED: South Shore Hospital cleared in deaths of two women after childbirthFaulty use of “hybrid” paper and electronic records the sort of confusion-inducing circumstance at South Shore Hospital that is alleged by lawyers for Robertson’s family was among the most frequently cited examples of harm in the review.The analysts also identified as hazards: medical staff entering incorrect data; improper use of a computer’s “cut-and-paste” function to duplicate, without updating, daily notes on patients; and computer crashes that caused loss of data and left medical staff temporarily without access to critical records.
The study bolstered findings of an earlier review by a medical quality and safety group, the nonprofit ECRI Institute, which ranked electronic data hazards as the No. 1 patient safety concern for 2014. The Pennsylvania-based nonprofit analyzed voluntary reports of 171 events in 36 hospitals across the country — most causing harm to patients but also many “near misses.”