In today’s healthcare ecosystems, electronic medical records and EHR systems do everything, from managing patient information and improving outcomes to reducing medication errors. With its integration with other healthcare systems, such as remote patient monitoring and telehealth solutions, EHR and EMR systems can transform care delivery and healthcare processes. Looking back, patient safety and medication errors were quite concerning nearly two decades ago. Perhaps, with changing healthcare tech landscape and increasing dependence on electronic medical records, providers can easily prevent medical errors.   

Electronic medical records (EMRs) can help reduce drug errors but should not be considered the be-all and end-all solution. Indeed, healthcare organizations discovered that simply installing single-platform EMR systems is insufficient in protecting patients from drug errors, costing the US healthcare system almost $20 billion annually. Perhaps, integrating medication tracking EMR can make a difference. That means to have a bigger impact on patient safety, hospitals, and health systems must consider integrated medication management initiatives, which combine data from multiple systems and devices to offer doctors more comprehensive information. Nd to do so, healthcare leaders must ensure that EMRs are used as part of this integrated medication management system, which connects a variety of systems and devices such as computerized physician order entry (CPOE), pharmacy, barcode medication administration (BCMA), automated medication dispensing, inventory management, and electronic medication-administration applications. Such integration can offer clinicians a comprehensive view of the patient’s drug profile and even help them overcome gaps when different technologies are utilized in isolation.  

Before we get into how electronic medical records and medication errors are connected, it’s essential to understand why it happens.   

What Causes Medication Errors? 

What Causes Medication Errors

According to The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error and Prevention (NCCMERP), the approved definition of medication error is- “… any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is under the health care professionals, patients, or consumer’s control. Such occurrences may be related to professional practice, health care items, procedures, and systems, such as prescribing, order communication, product labeling, packaging, nomenclature, compounding, dispensing, distribution, administration, education, monitoring, and use.”  

A medical provider’s medication therapy administration to a patient is a complex process. Medical errors can occur at any stage, from prescribing to administering the drug to the patient. Besides, inaccurate diagnosis, prescribing errors, dose miscalculations, poor drug distribution procedures, drug and drug device-related difficulties, inappropriate drug administration, failed communication, and a lack of patient education are all common causes of EMR medication error. 

What Causes Medication Errors 1

Incorrectly administered medication is one of the leading causes of therapeutic medication errors. The number of patient deaths caused by medication errors has risen from 198,000 in 1995 to 218,000 in 2000. The cost of these misadventures to the US economy is more than $177 billion per year.   

As previously said, electronic medical records reduce errors related to drug administration and other medical errors. So, the significance of having access to integrated information is highlighted when the risk is typically associated with intravenous (IV) infusion pumps. These IV pumps rapidly administer medications into a patient’s bloodstream. As per a study, an estimated 56% of drug errors are IV-related, with 61% resulting in death. Manually programming order parameters into the infusion pump can often lead to programming problems. Hence, integrating medication devices such as infusion pumps into the EMR systems allow bidirectional data flow and sending order parameters directly to the pump to promote medication safety. This also ensures prompt and accurate recordkeeping. A well-connected medication management system requires this integration with EMR, and medication errors are reduced in this way.

How can EMR Systems Reduce Medication Errors?

Now that you know the causes of medication errors, we can look into the link between EMR and medication errors. EMR and EHR integration can prevent medical errors related to drug administration and prescribing. The characteristics of an EMR database can effectively help physicians and other care team members in doing quick research about any drug, its potential side effects, and contraindications. Further, the EMR systems usually incorporate health plans for approved and conventional medicine doses, administration, and contraindications. Some health systems, like telemedicine solutions, can even employ split screens to assess potential interactions or serious adverse reactions between pre-admission drugs and potentially new medications for a current therapy or treatment procedure.  

Additionally, EHRs and EMRs can aid providers in identifying and correcting operational issues in a timely and coordinated manner. A competent electronic medical records system not only stores a patient’s drugs or allergies-related information but also checks for problems whenever a new medication is administered and informs the doctor about any conflicts. The information recorded in the EMR by a primary care provider will alert the emergency department clinician of a potentially lethal allergy, allowing emergency personnel to take proper treatment measures. E-prescribing is more secure, less expensive, and more convenient for practitioners and patients. And above all, it’s a way to control medication errors.   

On that note, here’s how EMR can reduce medication errors and helps providers and patients-   

1. By promoting patient safety 

By promoting patient safety

EMR integrated medication management system or e-prescribing solution can send alerts to prevent drug-to-drug and drug-to-allergy interactions. Further, it can also control inaccurate dosage, duplicate therapy, and overall patient status. In short, the link between EMR and medication errors assures patient safety, which results in better outcomes.

2. Reduces fraud and drug diversion 

Reduces fraud and drug diversion

EHRs and EMRs can efficiently ensure that clinicians provide prescriptions accurately and securely. Integration of EMR guarantees that prescription is seamlessly shared across to pharmacy without any breach or tampering. And this eventually reduces the chances of medication errors.

3. Prevents drug misuse and abuse 

Prevents drug misuse and abuse

With EMR, physicians can access a patient’s prescription history at any point of care. And this information enables clinicians to identify if their patients are involved in drug-abusing behaviors or demonstrating ‘doctor shopping.’ EMR integration in health systems can prevent drug abuse and allow clinicians to intervene to save patients timely.

4. Improves workflow 

Improves workflow

EMRs and EHRs can streamline the prescribing workflows at a centralized location. This saves clinicians from switching between workflows, which is a time-consuming process. Moreover, this helps doctors to view and prescribe medications without any hassle.   

5. Enhances accuracy 

Enhances accuracy

Paper-based or manual prescribing has loopholes; medication errors are a clear example. But with EMR integration, accuracy ceases to be a problem. Further, it reduces problems such as illegible handwriting, misread abbreviations, and unclear dosages, which lead to medication errors. 


EHRs and EMRs can help detect any red flags during the treatment process, leading to improved patient outcomes. Today’s healthcare practitioners acknowledge that machines have limitations and that human attention and responsiveness to alerts and warnings must be handled effectively to avoid mishaps. To fully leverage the EMR to reduce medication errors and boost patient safety, healthcare providers must integrate these solutions with additional technologies as part of a connected drug management system. This link (between EMR and medication error) can increase the speed and safety of medication management operations while also producing strong analytics and alerts to aid in medication management and patient care decisions.  


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