From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Computer Decisions Could Reduce Medical Errors

Using computers to help make healthcare decisions could prove to be a benefit for both patient and caregiver, says a recent study.

The study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, found that incorporating a decision support system that applies evidence-based guidelines to a patient’s electronic medical data can help flag deviations from what are considered best practices and potentially catch serious medical errors before they happen.

Nearly 40,000 members of QualChoice in Cleveland, Ohio, had computerized care recommendations generated for them, when necessary, over the course of 12 months. Each member was placed into one of two groups: one group for which the care recommendations were communicated and another group for which the care recommendations were not communicated.

At the end of a year, researchers found that in situations where care recommendations were generated, members of the group that had the recommendations communicated had 19 percent fewer hospitalizations and an average of $800 less in paid claims than members of the group that didn’t have care recommendations communicated. The study also found 46 potentially serious medical errors for every 1000 patients for whom care recommendations were generated.

Previous studies have linked medical errors to work-related factors including worker fatigue, inadequate staffing and poor workplace design, all of which ergonomics can help improve. While computerized systems that communicate treatment recommendations don’t take the place of healthcare professionals, they can act as another system to alert a healthcare worker of a potentially erroneous decision.

Source: Medical News Today