ECRI: Be vigilant to prevent copy-and-paste errors

EHR system

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Clinicians and their staff must be vigilant to prevent using copy-and-paste functions in electronic health records in ways that propagate errors, speakers from the ECRI Institute told attendees last week at the American Health Information Management Association's (AHIMA) annual conference in Baltimore.

A doctor might not have a true picture of the progression of an ailment if the initial assessment is copied forward into records of subsequent visits and might consider the record untrustworthy, co-presenters Lorraine Possanza and Robert Giannini told the group, according to coverage of the talk reported in Physicians Practice.

"If I pasted information and it's incorrect and I repeatedly paste that information that is incorrect, I now have errors that are propagated," Possanza said.

The institute, through its Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, earlier this year released safe practice recommendations for using copy-and-paste with EHRs.

Copy-and-paste also contributes to “note bloat,” in which notes become overwhelming in length with redundant information, which can lead to diagnostic error.

Preventing these problems requires documentation that’s accurate and concise, attributing the source when copy-and-paste is used, and providing context where appropriate, Possanza and Giannini said.