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How can electronic health records cause medical errors?

Those of us who are old enough to remember when doctors kept our records in file folders, clipboards with our information hung at the foot of our hospital beds and physicians scrawled barely-legible prescriptions on pieces of paper may still be getting used to our medical records being accessed via laptops and tablets. Electronic health records have improved patient documentation and reduced the problems caused by misread handwriting. However, EHRs also come with their own set of problems that can result in medical errors -- sometimes serious ones.

A review of malpractice claims related to EHRs found that user errors accounted for roughly two-thirds of them. These included:

-- Inputting incorrect information-- Copying and pasting information to the wrong file-- Insufficient training

System-related problems that led to malpractice claims included:

-- Design, system and data routing failures-- Insufficient room available for proper documentation-- Alarm failures-- Fragmented records-- Interoperability issues between

Because several years can elapse between the time an alleged incident of medical malpractice occurs and the time a claim is filed, there are certainly more claims on the horizon.

These EHRs also pose security issues if a laptop or thumb drive is lost or stolen. Cyberattacks can also cause serious data breaches.

One advantage of EHRs is that they make it easier for patients to see their records and ensure that the information on them, such as their medical history, is accurate. Some medical facilities have secure portals where patients can log in and access this information. It's important for patients to take advantage of this accessibility.

If a patient is harmed or dies due to an EHR-related error, even if it's a system error, that doesn't absolve the medical facility and providers of legal responsibility. An experienced Mississippi medical malpractice attorney can provide guidance if you or a loved one was the victim of such an error.

Source: AAP News, "Lessons learned from EHR-related medical malpractice cases," Richard L. Oken, M.D., FAAP, Aug. 08, 2016

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