MOORE — Improvements in electronic recording are providing more accurate care for patients, and Norman Regional Health System’s Dr. Brian Yeaman said it’s just the beginning of potential innovations.
In light of this week’s National Patient Safety Awareness Week, Yeaman said Norman Regional already has several implemented programs that set them ahead from just a few years ago.
“We’d be back where we previously were, which was reading things off of paper and looking things up in 2,000-page books. Trying to synthesize all that information, it would take more time and it would add back potential risks that we’ve worked on eliminating today,” Yeaman said on the advantage of electronic recording.
Electronic recording — an alternative to the traditional hand-written, paper records — has several obvious benefits, including accuracy and legibility, Yeaman said, jokingly noting physicians’ notoriously bad handwriting.
Recent technology implemented at Norman Regional, like bedside medication verification, goes beyond simple recording. Norman’s program, one of the first in the nation, ensures inpatients receive proper medication by allowing nurses to scan a barcode on the patient’s bracelet as well as a barcode on the medication before administrating medication.
“So you know you have the right patient, at the right time, with the right medicine. Keeps that at 96 percent compliance,” Yeaman said. “It’s a tremendous patient safety issue, in terms of making sure to have the right meds to the right person and having nothing messed up.”
Other technology, like computerized physician order entry, serves as an intellectual safety net for physicians, Yeaman said. When doctors enter patient medications into the program, it double-checks drug-to-drug interactions.
“It’s impossible to try to keep up with a lot of that in your mind at all times,” Yeaman said. “What the computer system does is, when I put in the orders, it checks them against the patients’ drug allergies and their medications that they’re taking and gives us an alert if there’s a potential interaction.”
Yeaman said the technology is a big win for patient safety.
“The statistics nationally say that will cut down somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of ordering errors and cut down on 80 percent of administration errors,” he said.
Electronic recording also allows for ease of health information exchange. For the last five years, Yeaman said Norman Regional has been participating in an exchange program that allows patients more readily available access to records from other hospitals or physicians outside of the Norman network.
Yeaman said the exchange program proves critical in emergency situations when a patient might be unconscious and allows physicians to more easily determine a patient’s pre-existing conditions, medications or their baseline health.
Norman Regional is working on expanding their network of information, Yeaman said.
With so much recorded electronically, Yeaman said hospitals are now able to hold records more accurately for a longer period of time.
“Now in the electronic world we have backup tapes, and we can keep things for a very long time,” he said.
Yeaman said the shift from paper to electronic records is not always easy but has proven to have many benefits.
“It’s a challenge for health care to change to an electronic culture, but with some of those challenges, we’re changing the way we’re doing things, and we get a lot of wins for patients and a lot of wins for patient safety.”
Patient Safety Awareness Week is an annual education and awareness campaign for health care safety led by National Patient Safety Foundation.
For more information on Patient Safety Awareness Week, visit www.npsf.org.