Removing Human Error In Patient Records

What do you mean spray-painted on a road

It could be argued that the most important part of patient care can be summed up in one word which is ‘accuracy.’ Some may say that timing, in terms of the speed of treatment is more important, but for me I’d always go back to accuracy as number one.

We know from working with our customers that compliance and clinical governance is a key area that drives everything they do, as it proves they are working towards high standards and are providing excellent and improving patient care.

The amount of scrutiny on patient data, whether internally or from Clinical Commissioning Groups or the Care Quality Commission, is huge. And it is here that having accurate data is vital, and an area where every organisation is trying to constantly improve at an organisation-wide level down to each individual clinician’s professional compliance.

So what is causing inaccuracies in the data?

Human Error

The main offender is (and probably always will be) human error.

Due to the nature of the work that clinicians do in busy departments, in air ambulances or patient transfer ambulances, they don’t have the luxury of time to sit and double and triple check notes etc due to the demands placed upon them.

So what can be done to help?

Going Digital

One of the best proven methods for improving accuracy in patient records is to use an EPRF system. Paper records come with a variety of pitfalls – as we looked at in this previous blog, but going digital and implementing a dedicated software solution can help in the following ways:

Easier Data Collection

Switching to digital forms means users can complete forms faster. This is done via smart forms which include drop down lists that save having to type everything out each time.

But most importantly, these drop down lists ensure that everyone is using the same language/terminology across the board, there is no room for personal interpretation. Additionally, in systems like ours (ARCEMS) they can also be fully customised so the terms in the list match what clinicians are used to and have been trained on.

Ensuring consistency and accuracy across forms in this way makes a massive difference when it comes to analysing and reporting on data as it’s all in a clear and consistent format.

Error Flags

Another way an EPRF can help is that it can be set up to flag up to users any instances of inaccuracies.

Within ARCEMS we do this in our patient surveys feature. Our forms will prevent any data being entered that falls outside of expected parameters such as blood pressure in an incorrect format.

These alerts are not there to catch clinicians out, but to help prompt them that a possible error may have been made.

Invalid data warning

No More ‘Back Of The Glove’ Recording

You may have seen it or you may have done it yourself; while treating a patient you may have scribbled down observation notes in biro on the back of your blue gloves. Whilst this might provide a fast method for quickly remembering something, ultimately it can lead to inaccuracies especially if after treating a patient you whip the gloves off and throw them in the bin, therefore losing what you’d written down.

Having an electronic patient form gives you a fast way of noting down this information that you’d normally write on the glove, and as soon as it’s entered it is saved so won’t be lost in the bin.

What’s more, EPRF systems like ARCEMS can integrate with patient monitors so all observation data is automatically (and accurately) stored leaving the clinician to focus on the patient safe in the knowledge that everything is being logged.

No Blank Spaces

Many inaccuracies in the patient records are caused by missing information. With an electronic patient record it can be set so that certain fields are mandatory and must be completed. Again this isn’t to catch anyone out but it is included to act as a prompt to remind the clinician that something is missing, which they may have forgotten about due to being so busy.

Find out more

You can read about how the Great North Air Ambulance Service are benefiting from a paperless system in this case study.

If your critical care transfer team or air ambulance service are still using a paper based approach and want to move to a digital setup in order to improve accuracy across the board, get in touch with us today via the form below and our team can provide more information plus arrange a free no obligation demo of our software.

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