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How Will Electronic Medical Record Help Accuracy

In a recent article published on February 19, 2013 in The Philadelphia Inquirer, entitled The Flaws of Electronic Records, Drexel University’s Scot Silverstein, a physician and adjunct professor of health-care informatics, criticizes the recent push for computerized medical charts.

The proclaimed critic of electronic medical records argues that the notion that these electronic records prevent more mistakes than they cause is not proven. He supports his claim by referencing a flawed software at Lifespan Hospital group in Rhode Island that produced incorrect subscriptions for thousands of patients. Instead of getting a subscription for strong, time-release pills, the patients received subscriptions for low-dose, short-acting pills, and although none of the patients were harmed by this mistake, Silverstein believes that these mistakes are far more common and dangerous than proponents of electronic medical records believe.

In an interview, Silverstein talked about traditional patient charts being switched to computers:

We know it causes harm, and we don’t even know the level of magnitude. That statement alone should be the basis for the greatest of caution and slowing down.

The recent speed-up of electronic medical record use has been fueled by the federal government, who is paying caregivers to adopt this method and has already paid out an estimated $10 billion in bounties. According to a survey in September given by a research firm, CapSite, 70 percent of doctors have already switched to digital data.

Silverstein points out that the government does not require caregivers to point out problems with the system, which could result in many computer mistakes never being reported.


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