Electronic health records systems may be harmful to children

Persons in Kentucky as well as in other parts of the country may not realize the potential harm that electronic health records (EHR) may be exposing to children and infants. A study conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts in two separate children's hospitals identified system lapses that could contribute to errors in prescribing drugs as well as the administration of patient care.

Among the issues uncovered by Pew were the inconsistencies in software parameters for a child's weight, allergies, and vital statistics. When prescribing medications for adults, a weight variation of a few pounds means virtually nothing. When prescribing medications for children, a weight variation of even 1-2 pounds can result in a dangerous error.

For example, a default EHR checkbox setting that automatically indicates that an infant is at least six months old could be detrimental and even deadly if the child is actually four months old and the default checkbox is not unchecked by attending personnel. It could cause errors in medication dosage as well as incorrect vaccinations.

Because of the potential risks posed by these systems lapses, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is considering implementation of new rules for the design and functionality of these systems to better serve pediatric patients with less risk of medical error due to system deficiencies. Possible improvements could include better system interfacing and information flows that are better streamlined to help prevent errors.

Indivdiuals who believe they may have fallen victim to medical malpractice through the use of faulty EHR usage or other errors may benefit from consulting an attorney who is experienced in these types of cases. The attorney may be able to negotiate a settlement to help cover the costs of corrective medical treatment as well as other damages, or seek compensation through the court system.

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