Electronic health records (EHR) have become standard in today’s medical field. Creating faster, more accessible charting and communication, both doctors and patients are taking advantage of this system. However, these programs can introduce problems, including misdiagnosis of medical issues and an increase in medication errors. History shows that malpractice suits tend to rise with technological advances, as this has certainly been the case with EHRs.
Types of Error
Responsibility for medical blunders lies with both humans and computers. For example, program design requires a specific order of documentation. In one case, a patient’s allergy was documented by a nurse, but not electronically posted in the program until after the doctor had completed the exam notes. The doctor’s ill-informed prescription resulted in an allergic reaction, and a subsequent lawsuit. Other possible EHR mistakes have been reported in court as well. Below is a list of the most common issues.
- Data entry mistakes, the most obvious human error, are responsible for the majority of lawsuits.
- Automatic fill-in and default templates are not reviewed properly, resulting in misinformation.
- Copy-and-paste errors occur when medical staff is not careful with chart reviewing.
- Improper training can lead to misuse of the program.
- Lack of system alerts can cause medical professionals to overlook important information.
- System failures can wreak havoc on many levels.
- Patients can misinterpret information.
In the Courtroom
In the past, hand-written records could be deemed illegible in a courtroom. However, this problem does not occur with electronic records. While any combination of human or technological error may have occurred, courts consider EHR as official documentation.
Also of concern is the extensive amount of data available in electronic medical records. With so much more information to sift through, it is easier to overlook important medical details.
Heavy debate also surrounds the authenticity and dependability of electronic health records. These programs are responsible for processing payment, as well as documenting health records and multiple other tasks. The debate questions the exchange of insurance coding and other information between two or more parties. Who has access to the program? Can they manipulate medical portions of the program to affect billing outcomes? These are important points to consider when involved in a possible malpractice lawsuit.
Standard of Care
The evolution of the electronic medical record could create a shift in the legal standard of care that is expected of physicians. “Clinical decision guidelines” are installed in each program by manufacturers. A physician may, in good faith, choose a different course of treatment for a patient. By overriding a program alert, he or she could be held liable for malpractice. This potential for confusion and misinterpretation of who defines “standard of care” has instigated a recent discussion and will undoubtedly be considered in future cases.
Malman Law Can Help
With approximately 2,000 statutes and regulations governing these electronic programs, there are still many loopholes that can result in doctor and patient error. If your health has been compromised due to an electronic health record error, understanding your legal options is essential. The changing technological tides in the medical world can be overwhelming. Pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit may seem equally daunting, but the team at Malman Law is committed to making the process as smooth as possible. We have successfully obtained compensation for countless clients, and we want to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.