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CA Medical Mistakes – Action Taken To Improve Healthcare

March 24, 2008

Los Angeles, CA - The state of California fined nearly a dozen hospitals last week for medical mistakes that in some cases were deadly. Most of the violations involved prescribing the wrong dosage or type of medication, something Dr. Elaine Batchlor with L.A. Care Health Plan says could have been prevented if better information-sharing technologies had been in place.

"Health information technology has a significant role to play in improving health care, in preventing mistakes, helping doctors give patients appropriate care, and in making the care process more efficient."

Batchlor notes the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt new information technology, and that many providers, especially clinics serving low-income Californians, struggle with the cost. L.A. Care Health Plan is offering $2 million in grants to help such community clinics. Some tools they'll receive are electronic medical records, a prescribing system that eliminates handwritten prescriptions and a disease registry to help doctors track chronic diseases.

A recent report from the California Health Care Foundation found that while nearly 80 percent of Kaiser Permanente doctors were using electronic health records, only 3 percent of community clinic doctors had access to the technology. Her organization is providing grants, Batchlor explains, "because of this gap between physicians who have the resources and physicians like those practicing in community clinics, caring for low-income and under-served communities, who don't have the same resources."

A list of the 11 hospitals fined by the state is available at www.cdph.ca.gov.

Lori Abbott/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CA