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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Northwestern: Restrictions on Electronic Medical Records Show Little Benefit

Restricting physicians’ ability to view multiple patient records at the same time does not reduce wrong-patient orders, according to a large clinical trial published in JAMA.

Many accrediting agencies and patient safety experts suggest limiting the number of patient records displayed at once, ostensibly to avoid patient misidentification. Instead, the results of this study show that multiple open records may not actually cause wrong-patient orders, according to Dr. Bruce Lambert, director of the Center for Communication and Health in the School of Communication, in collaboration with the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), and a co-author of the study.

Wrong-patient orders are one of the most common medical errors. During 2016 alone, more than 600,000 U.S. patients had an order placed for them that was actually intended for another patient, according to previous studies.

Despite the recommendations of electronic health record (EHR) providers, real-world open records practices vary widely. Among a survey of U.S. chief information officers at healthcare providers, just 38 percent reported restricting physicians to viewing a single patient’s record at a time.

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