A 2017 study released by The Doctor’s Company indicates that Electronic Health Records have been implicated in several medical malpractice lawsuits. How are health records becoming an increasing problem for patients and doctors? One of the main reasons seems to be faulty software and failure to (digitally) communicate.
Record Software Leads to Medical Malpractice Suits
While doctors are still responsible for taking an accurate history and ensuring the safety of their interventions, reliance on electronic records has created a more serious problem—one that it was meant to solve. Ideally, electronic records allow doctors to easily communicate with one another, update patient records in real-time, and ensure that drug allergies and other major threats are contained. However, the EHR software doesn’t appear to be working as advertised. This has resulted in:
- Fragmented EHRs – A patient’s record may not update when a doctor prescribes a new medication or a doctor treats a new medical condition. This leaves doctors unaware of potential medication side effects or interactions.
- Lack of access to EHRs – In some cases, health care professionals cannot access a patient’s EHR at all. If the doctor is able to speak to the patient directly, they can ask them about allergies, medications, and recent surgeries. But in serious emergency room situations, they’re going in blind. In some cases, lab results are never sent to doctors.
- Poor recordkeeping ability – In some cases, EHR software does not allow doctors to add notes that could be important for other doctors to know. There are only checkboxes or dropdown menus that offer insufficient options for documentation.
- Data routing failure – When a doctor orders lab tests through an EHR, the lab may never get the request or upon getting the request and performing the test, are not able to send the results back to the doctor.
- Lack of safeguards and alerts – EHR software lacks sufficient fail-safes to ensure that, if a lab test is ordered, the test has been performed and received. In cases where two drugs might interact poorly, there are no alerts sent to doctors concerning the problem.
- Integration problems between hospital departments – The report showed that emergency room records and specialists, even in the same hospital, had unintegrated systems that may not provide the same information.
- Security problems – The report also indicated that there were security holes in the software that could be accessed by hackers.
- Data conversion failures – In some cases, a record needed to be converted from one file type to another. This resulted in the loss of data or unreadable records.
EHR Failure is No Excuse for Medical Negligence
With some exceptions, hospitals and doctors are expected to have accurate patient records and, failing that, get an accurate patient record when possible. Since the EHR failures are well documented, doctors who don’t take full histories of their patients are guilty of medical negligence when their patients are injured. If you’ve been injured by medical negligence, call the Kansas City, MO personal injury attorneys at the Krause and Kinsman Law Firm today.
Adam Krause is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Adam Krause has made a career of taking complicated litigation and presenting it in the most elementary terms for a jury of your peers to understand. Learn more about his experience here.