Slate’s Law Blog

Preventing Medical Mistakes With Computer Software

Medical Mistakes and Medication Errors

Medical errors, and medication mistakes in particular, are much more common than you probably think. In some cases, a medication error might not result in a patient injury because it is caught in time—by the patient herself, by the prescribing healthcare provider, or by the pharmacist. There are many different ways that medication errors can occur, from a physician failing to consider the dangerous interaction of a drug with a patient’s current medication regimen to an inaccurately filled prescription. Believe it or not, many medication errors actually happen as a result of spell-check errors and other technological errors in the process of inputting prescriptions into a computer system.

According to a recent article in ZDNet, computer software that includes spell-check and autocorrect features could end up preventing serious and fatal medication mistakes across the country.

How Computer Software and Technology Can Prevent Medical Mistakes and Medication Errors

Currently, medical mistakes in general are the third-leading cause of death among adults in the U.S., and medication errors are a major source of debilitating medical mistakes. Recognizing that many medication mistakes happen because of minor typing and inputting errors, the company MedAware is developing software that is designed to “root out errors using machine learning and pattern recognition algorithms.”

The software focuses on mistakes made in electronic health records, where errors are common. Accordingly, the software “acts as a type of spell check for doctors.” As the article explains, “when a doctor prescribes a medicine that doesn’t match the patient or doctor profile, the doctor gets alerted at the point of prescription.” The software also has the ability to identify potentially negative interactions between a newly prescribed medication and a prescription medication that is already part of the patient’s record.

Medication Errors Are Common

Medication mistakes are much too common, and they frequently occur in the process of prescribing a medication. Certainly, errors can occur when a physician does not closely examine a patient’s medical record and prescribes a drug with a dangerous interaction. The new software can catch such errors. In addition, mistakes can happen when a healthcare provider inputs a prescription into an electronic system. The healthcare provider might incorrectly type the drug into the system, or might accidentally select the wrong medication as part of a drop-down menu. With the way the software works, it can identify problems indicated by a prescription drug that does not match with the health issues identified in the patient’s electronic record, or when a healthcare provider prescribes a drug that has never been prescribed previously in their practice.

The software ultimately could reduce the overall rate of medication mistakes—notably those that occur in the process of prescribing a drug as opposed to those that occur in the process of filling the prescription. Yet medication errors can still occur, and it is important for patients to know their rights and to seek advice from a New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer if an injury happens.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Santa Fe

Do you need assistance filing a claim due to a medication error injury? One of our Santa Fe medical malpractice attorneys can assist you. Contact Slate Stern Law to learn more about our personal injury services.