Patient Pictures May Prevent Some Medical Mistakes, Researchers Say

Attaching pictures to patients’ electronic medical records could significantly reduce the number of medical mistakes that occur throughout the United States, preventing nurses from giving patients the wrong drugs and surgeons from operating on the wrong patients, according to the findings of a recent study. 

Researchers from Children’s Hospital in Colorado found that the simple act of placing a picture of the patient on the electronic version of their medical chart helped prevent mistakes, because health care workers could easily verify that the person they were treating was the same individual described in the chart.

The investigators said the tactic is an effective strategy for reducing patient harm. The findings were published on-line last week by the medical journal Pediatrics.

Did You Know?

Millions of Philips CPAP Machines Recalled

Philips DreamStation, CPAP and BiPAP machines sold in recent years may pose a risk of cancer, lung damage and other injuries.

Learn More

According to the researchers, 24% of all reported medical errors occur because health care workers used incorrect patient’s chart. This leads to orders being placed for the wrong medications and in the most extreme cases, patients being operated on incorrectly. Those types of errors can be fatal and can also cost doctors and hospitals millions of dollars in medical malpractice lawsuits.

However, when researchers placed patients’ pictures on their medical charts, it allowed health care workers to match the face of the person they were about to treat to the face on the chart. They reported that after a 15 month period, no patient whose picture was on their chart received unintended care. The problem had been completely eliminated for the duration of the study.

Many medical experts have long hoped that the use of electronic or digital medial records would reduce medical mistakes and prescription errors, helping healthcare providers avoid preventable injuries and reduce their exposure to the risk of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Having the records available electronically could prevent misreading of hand-written data, flag potentially dangerous drug combinations and alert physicians and health care professionals to health conditions that might complicate other procedures.

However, some studies have shown that many of the expected benefits are not materializing as rapidly as expected, if at all.

In February 2011, a report by researchers from Johns Hopkins published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found no consistent link between the use of electronic records and the quality of care. The only category that showed marked improvement from electronic medical record use was diet counseling in high-risk adults.

A different study, published in late December 2010 in the American Journal of Managed Care, did find overall improvements in serious medical care when hospitals used electronic health records, but found a decrease in quality when the electronic record-keeping systems were new.


"*" indicates required fields

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Suboxone Settlements Failed to Compensate Users Left With Tooth Decay or Tooth loss
Suboxone Settlements Failed to Compensate Users Left With Tooth Decay or Tooth loss (Posted today)

Although Suboxone settlements have been paid to resolve antitrust violations, users who suffered damages due to tooth decay from Suboxone film must pursue individual product liability lawsuits

Bard 3DMax Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Set for Trial To Begin in April 2024
Bard 3DMax Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Set for Trial To Begin in April 2024 (Posted yesterday)

With thousands of Bard hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system, a fourth bellwether trial will be held in the spring, involving allegations that defects with Bard 3DMax caused painful and permanent injuries.