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Hacking Healthcare by David Uhlman, Fred Trotter

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Chapter 7. Human Error

A lot of the drive toward IT in healthcare aims at eliminating human error from critical processes. This includes activities such as prescribing medications and properly handling complex treatment for chronic conditions. However, the introduction of new technologies presents its own risks that can in some cases be equally problematic with the human errors they reduce. Let’s now take a look at common human errors, technological solutions, and the new risks they introduce.

In the context of meaningful use, the myopic focus on incentive payments has glossed over the fact that the prevention of medical errors is one of the core goals that drove its creation. The healthcare industry as a whole, perhaps naturally, put all its attention on the incentive payment process, but it is important to think about what the ultimate goals of the guidelines are. Many of them parrot the conclusions of several studies that focused on preventable medical errors and their resolutions. The recommended process for e-prescribing derives from the conclusions of a study mentioned in Chapter 1 and that we will focus on in more detail shortly, “To Err Is Human.” Many more of the clinical guidelines come from several studies that found inconsistency and forgetfulness in the treatment of diabetes and hypertension, which involve complex and long-term treatments. Finally the auditing and historical action tracking guidelines allow for an honest and thorough accounting of mistakes when they ...

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