Biggest Threat to Patient Safety – EMRs and Hospital Handoffs?

This tweet should drive an interesting discussion. Dr. Val tweeted that the two biggest patient safety threats are EMR and hospital handoffs.

In the links, a lot of the things discussed are issues that could happen even outside the electronic environment. However, with every change in system, there’s an opportunity for the users to abuse that system.

As I’ve said before, EHR requires change (not to mention managing EHR change). That’s just a feature of an EHR implementation and it’s something we should embrace. However, one challenge with change is that many of the systems we’ve created that deal with the weaknesses of our current workflow don’t work with the new EHR workflow.

The problem when change occurs is that we often don’t remember to also change the processes we created to ensure things like quality. We assume that this new tech system will somehow magically solve the problems that we’d been having before. In some cases, the technology can solve your problems. For example, if your office had a problem with doctors writing illegible notes in the chart. EHR will solve that immediately. However, if you have a doctor who doesn’t document the visit fully in the paper chart, do you think the EHR Is magically going to solve it? No, you still need programs and policies that improve the quality of your clinical documentation.

Back to EHR as a major threat to patient safety, it’s very true. Although, it’s not the EHR itself that’s the problem. It’s what we do or don’t do with the tool that causes the issues.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.