Electronic Health Records Carries New Malpractice Risks

Electronic health records (EHRs) have been infinitely useful for improving
medical record documentation. Anyone who has ever attempted to read a
doctor’s writing knows that any system must be better than the one
where doctors frequently use a pen and paper. Unfortunately, the American
Academy of Pediatrics is warning that EHRs carry new and different medical
malpractice risks.

Since claims often take 3-4 years to surface, EHR-related medical malpractice
suits are just beginning to show up. This, of course, means we don’t
know the full extent of the frequency of these cases. Regardless, the
advantages of EHR systems are so significant that a return to paper and
pencil is unfathomable. Instead, medical facilities and doctors must find
a way to minimize the risk of malpractice related to EHRs.

Why Does EHR-Related Medical Malpractice Occur?

Patient safety issues arise for reasons related to the EHR system itself
and to user error. Both are relatively complicated challenges to solve.
User error can be minimized, but a human element always includes the possibility
of mistakes. Problems with the system itself can be complex and, even
more importantly, very expensive to resolve.

Forty-two percent of EHR-related malpractice claims arose out of system
errors. EHR system errors that can result in medical malpractice include
poor system design, technology or system failure, insufficient space for
proper documentation, and interoperability issues. For example, many systems
don’t have full functionality for child-related documentation. Full
pediatric functionality would require the system to allow for weight-based
dosing of prescription, but many systems do not allow doctors to make
such a specification. Interoperability issues arise when different systems
fail to sync well or do not sync at all. Doctors who believe they will
have access to their office’s system can find themselves without
access to key records if they need to see their patient in a hospital
or other facility.

An even larger proportion of medical malpractice suits arising out of electronic
health record systems is attributed to user error. 64% of EHR-related
malpractice claims are due to user errors such as inputting incorrect
information, problems with converting or merging health records, copy
and paste errors, and alert fatigue. Doctors are supposed to provide an
ongoing health history for each visit, but EHRs have made it easy for
them to copy and paste previous reports, thereby avoiding typing repeated
information. The problem is when the condition has changed slightly or
there is a mistake in the older record. This can negatively impact the
treatment of a patient as long as the information is improperly maintained
in the file.

Did a Medical Documentation Error Result in Serious Injury or Death?

If a mistake in reading, interpreting, or utilizing your medical health
records resulted in a serious injury, you may be able to recover damages
for additional treatment, loss of wages, and other costs. Though it may
be intimidating to think about suing your doctor for
medical malpractice, the experienced attorneys at Wagner Reese can handle the burden for you.
We will not require any payment unless your case is settled or won in
your favor, and the initial consultation is free. Call us today at (888) 204-8440 to begin.