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Are EHRs Falling Short of Protecting Patients?

Written by Berkowitz

Connecticut's Medical Malpractice Attorneys - Berkowitz and Hanna LLCEHRs or electronic health records were introduced as being the answer to managing patient data more efficiently. It was considered an easy, convenient way to collect medical data in a single location and offer it to medical professionals around the country – so that they had a patient’s medical history at their fingertips. The purpose was to improve efficiency, but also improve the quality of care patients received from a physician or when being referred to other physicians.




The Issue with EHRs

Electronic health records are supposed to be intuitive and help reduce administrative responsibilities while never interrupting or interfering with the patient’s relationship with their caring physician. But, to access them, a physician’s office or hospital must have an IT department that has integrated into the system, must be secured, and must be dedicated to efficiency as well.

EHRs are seeing a whole new host of challenges and in some ways, they are contributing to more medical errors. Some of the ways EHRs are falling short when it comes to protecting patients include:

  1. They are not being reviewed anyway. Under the Meaningful Use guidelines created as part of the EHR system, physicians are supposed to review medication lists with 50 percent of their patients to ensure EHR accuracy. This includes herbal supplements, over-the-counter medications, and even prescriptions.  More than 60 percent of patient medical records contain errors of additions, omissions, etc. If a physician doesn’t review these records before ordering more prescription medications or suggesting treatments, a patient could suffer.
  2. Incorrect medications are often listed in EHRs. Unfortunately, there are incorrect medications or inaccurate diagnoses listed in inpatient EHRs all of the time. These can affect whether a patient receives the safest type of care or even the right diagnosis.
  3. Patient information is not made available to the patient either. The Meaningful Use guidelines also state that 50 percent of a patient’s record should be given to the patient. However, there is no guidance as to what information should be provided to the patient. So, when a patient cannot review their file or see what is listed in their medical chart, they may not be able to notify medical professionals of errors in that file.
  4. EHRs may limit whether a physician truly gets to know their patient. By having medical information at their fingertips, physicians tend to rely more on the digital record than getting to know their patients and remembering their patient’s needs on their own. This can be a problem with the doctor-patient relationship and lead to a higher risk for medical malpractice lawsuits – especially when patients feel they are being ignored or they are just a chart number.
  5. EHRs are not user-friendly. For some physicians, EHRs are impossible to use – which is why they will put limited information into the chart or not edit errors that they find within the chart.

Were You Injured Due to an EHR Error?

While EHRs were designed to make diagnostics and patient care easier, they still fall short as far as protecting patients. Patients are injured each day in the United States due to improper records, errors, and omissions. If you were injured, contact a CT medical malpractice attorney right away. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation.