Improper management of test results and diagnostic tools within EHRs are at the top of a list of patient safety concerns, according to a new report from ECRI Institute.

ECRI’s annual safety report, 2019 Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns, lists diagnostic stewardship and test result management as the number one concern, followed by burnout on patient safety as number three, and patient safety involving mobile health as number four.

These concerns topped safety concerns related to behavioral health, early recognition of Sepsis and infections from peripherally inserted IV lines.

It can be fatal to a patient whenever a healthcare provider using an EHR is unable to communicate on a diagnosis or test result properly, ECRI says. Further, as more and more doctors rely on clinical decision support tools to track results and flag issues, it’s important to recognize that EHRs are not the be-end-all.

“Technology is just a tool – there’s currently not an algorithm that is going to identify all the key elements and analyze them to give you the correct diagnosis,” said Lorraine B. Possanza, program director at the Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety.

According ECRI’s Patricia Stahura, RN, senior analyst and consultant, three key components must be clearly communicated within an EHR to maintain safety – the diagnosis, the treatment plan, and the follow-up plan.

“The information must be accurate and must be written so that future clinicians looking at the EHR can understand it,” she said. “If you have faulty information or missing test results, you are predisposed to making a diagnostic error.”

This latest ECRI report highlights patient safety concerns from across the healthcare, because ECRI believes that collaboration among healthcare providers, community agencies and patients is essential to keeping patients safe.

Physicians and nurses have been struggling with burnout for a while now. Burdensome medical records have been cited as one of the chief reasons.

“Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the country,” says Dr. Marcus Schabacker, president and CEO of ECRI Institute. “This guidance can help healthcare leaders and clinicians save lives.”

As the new report notes: “Organizations across the continuum of care are striving to become high-reliability organizations, and part of being highly reliable means staying vigilant and identifying problems proactively.”

Twitter: @Diana_Manos
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication. 


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