Today, physicians are no longer writing their medical records by hand. Instead, they are using electronic health record reporting systems (EHR) to track diagnosis, medications, and more. These systems have been touted as the solution to malpractice, and they are supposed to help physicians provide a better level of care, and even lower healthcare costs.
Unfortunately, there are errors even with the best technology being used. Already, a national medical liability insurer reviewed EHR-related malpractice claims and discovered that 42 percent came from system errors, while 64 percent resulted from user problems. By being aware of the issues present in these new systems, physicians and patients can better protect themselves from malpractice claims.
The percentage of doctors that are using EHR systems has risen from 58 percent in 2009 to 79 percent in 2012. Multiple systems are notorious for creating interoperability issues. Pediatricians, for example, may not realize that they don’t have immediate access to emergency room records, hospital admission records, specialist reports, lab results, and more. Fragmented systems can also contribute to serious errors in medical management and may expose patients to unnecessary risks.
Nearly 50 percent of pediatric practices have now replaced their prescription written pads for electronic prescriptions. These orders are sent directly to the pharmacy instead of given to the patient. Not all programs, however, can validate the pediatric drug dose, which means that there is still room for error. Lack of this functionality in these EHRs can increase the likelihood that a medication error will occur on a pediatric level.
Pediatricians were particularly prone to these errors; therefore, they should verify that the EHR system they’re using does pediatric-specific dosage verifications – not adult dosage. This should alert the provider that there is a dosage error to correct.
Another issue that has arisen with the use of EHR systems is copying and pasting clinical information from past medical encounters. This can be a benefit, but also a risk. Copying and pasting omit the error of someone inputting information improperly, but it can also create duplicate incorrect information – especially if the wrong information is copied and pasted to the wrong patient chart.
There is also the issue of personal safety. While this doesn’t lead to patient injury, devices containing personal health data need to be encrypted, and password protected. If stolen or lost, these laptops and pads could reveal sensitive patient information.
Unfortunately, EHR is not perfect. There are plenty of instances where patients are injured because of inaccurate data or issues. If you have suffered an injury because of a medical record issue or a physician’s negligence, contact a medical malpractice attorney right away to explore your options.