Electronic Health Record System and Adverse Outcomes

Does introducing an electronic health record system in a hospital result in an increase in adverse outcomes? Seventeen hospitals were tracked over the ‘go live’ date to see if electronic records would affect risk-adjusted mortality or readmission rates.[1] The result was null – care neither improved nor deteriorated on the end-points observed. The CLAHRC WM Director’s comment is that these end-points are not sensitive to change, since the noise to signal ratio is poor. And, of course, the range of outcomes narrow – no mention here of any stress to patients or staff, for example. Nevertheless, these results are broadly reassuring, especially as the NHS is planning a big push on electronic notes following the Wachter review.[2]

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Barnett ML, Mehrotra A, Jena AB. Adverse inpatient outcomes during the transition to a new electronic health record system: observational study. BMJ. 2016; 354: i3835.
  2. Wachter R. Making IT work: harnessing the power of health information technology to improve care in England. London: Department of Health. 2016.

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