Putting a patient's photo in his or her electronic health record could help reduce certain EHR-related medical errors, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, Reuters reports.
Background on Study
In 2009, a quality-improvement program at Children's Hospital Colorado found that orders placed in the wrong patient's chart were the second most common reason that patients received treatments not intended for them.
To reduce such errors, the hospital modified its EHR system to generate an order verification screen each time a test or treatment was ordered. The verification screen displayed a photo of the patient taken at the time the patient was admitted.
The study found that the number of incidents in which a patient received care intended for another patient fell from 12 cases in 2010 to three cases after the hospital implemented the verification screens in 2011. In all three of those cases, a photo was not included in the patient's EHR.
The number of "near-miss" incidents -- in which a treatment or test was ordered for the wrong patient but another staff member caught the error -- fell from 33 cases in 2010 to 10 cases in 2011. In just one of the 10 cases, a photo was included in the patient's EHR.
Daniel Hyman -- lead author of the study and chief quality officer at Children's Hospital Colorado -- said, "I do think it's the photos that made the difference." He said other hospitals could add photos to their EHR systems, noting that the "technology needed is relatively inexpensive" (Norton, Reuters, 6/4).