Health information technology has its place in reducing medical errors, according to medical professionals and safety advocates speaking at the 2009 Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society conference in Chicago.
Dennis Quaid delivered the show's first keynote address on Sunday, retelling the story about the medication error that nearly cost his 10-day-old twins their lives last year. After the address, HIMSS Board Chairman Charles Christian presented Quaid with $10,000 for the Quaid Foundation, formed to promote awareness of medical errors.
When the babies entered 914-bed Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, to be treated for a staph infection, providers gave the twins an incorrect dose of the blood thinner heparin, Quaid said. The mistake caused massive hemorrhaging, with the twins "bleeding out of every place they were poked or prodded," he said.
The event occurred because the heparin bottles were "deadly similar" in size and packaging, Quaid said. Computer functions like computer physician-order entry would reduce the chance of mistaking packaging, he said.
While the twins now are thriving 17-month-old toddlers, telling their story represents an opportunity for other families not to have to suffer similar experiences, Quaid said.
Electronic health records are cutting down the number of pressure ulcers and falls patients experience at 145-bed Cape Canaveral Hospital, Cocoa Beach, Fla., according to Jan McCoy, vice president of patient-care services and chief nursing officer of the hospital, who spoke during a morning session on "never events" and their financial impact. Documentation is critical to the EHRs being useful, she said. "This is where we were really able to capture the electronic system."
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