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Should Our Enthusiasm for EMRs Be Evidence-Based?

by John Goodman

John Goodman is the President of the National Center for Policy Analysis

A 2005 study by University of Pennsylvania sociologist Ross Koppel surveyed doctors about a drug order system that the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania had installed. He found 22 circumstances in which the software boosted the probability of error. The system would make doctors scroll through up to 20 screens to get a patient medication list; other times it would put multiple names on the same screen, making it easy to mix up patients. (Penn has replaced the software.) Many current systems in other hospitals “continue to have the same problems with thoughtless, sloppy user interfaces,” Koppel says, including endless false-alarm alerts for minor drug interactions.


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