Electronic health records (EHR) are quickly replacing handwritten medical records in the healthcare industry. The advent of the technology has increased the productivity and efficiency of medical institutions and doctor offices, and has provided quick access to vital patient information. Although problems are common with any new technology, when there are problems with electronic medical records, the results can be catastrophic.
Medical malpractice cases related to electronic health records are being reported regularly as more hospitals, physician offices, and medical institutions convert to electronic records. A recent review of EHR-related medical malpractice cases found a large number of errors responsible for patient misdiagnosis, prescription errors, and unnecessary treatments, or medical testing. Mistakes made during the input of information, copying and pasting medical information, a lack of proper training, user fatigue, and errors made during the conversion process were common. Failures in the design of EHR systems, technology failures, and fragmented files also played a role in a large number of EHR-related medical negligence claims.
Moreover, specific problems with interfacing between medical institutions and physician practices can delay what types of information is available. Doctors and medical professionals that tap into a patient’s electronic record may not be aware of recent information on a patient such as emergency room visits, hospitalizations, lab results, or other medical interventions not yet posted in the file. This lack of pertinent information can result in serious errors made when diagnosing or treating a patient.
Problems with electronic prescription orders can also occur when physician office personnel are not directly communicating with a pharmacist. Doctors need to verify that dosing information is correct, check interactions between other medications the patient is prescribed, and confer with the pharmacist for information on a patient’s history of allergies or interactions to a medication. Taking this personal communication out of prescription ordering has led to serious consequences.
Flaws in EHR security systems can result in confidential and sensitive patient information being released. Divulging a patient’s medical history can have serious consequences on their personal and professional life. Breaches of personal data such as Social Security numbers and banking information can significantly compromise a patient’s identity. Failure to use encrypted passwords or to comply with the security mandates of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) can result in costly litigation and penalties.
Prevention is key when it comes to implementing effective electronic medical record technology. Users need to be trained and educated in all areas of data input, usability, and security of electronic records. Physicians, hospitals, and medical facilities need to ensure that medical providers have sufficient time to access and input pertinent data such as lab results and treatments ordered. Highly skilled technology support is vital to the functionality and security of electronic medical records. The EHR system is only as efficient and reliable as those in charge of its operation.
If you or someone you know has been injured by the negligence or incompetence of a physician, medical professional, hospital, or nursing home, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and highly skilled Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP are dedicated to helping their clients claim justice and the maximum compensation available under the law.
Call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792), or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Philadelphia offices serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.