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Electronic Health Records Linked to Growing Number of Medical Malpractice Cases

Electronic Health RecordsOver the last decade or so, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and other medical facilities have migrated toward digital patient records. Perhaps, then, it should come as little surprise that electronic health records (EHR) have contributed to an increasing number of medical malpractice claims during that time, at least according to a recent study. With thousands of health care facilities now using such systems, it is more important than ever before to ensure that EHR are utilized properly to minimize mistakes and potential injuries to patients.

Insurance Company Study

The Doctor’s Company is the country’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer and currently serves about 80,000 members. The company looked at medical negligence claims from 2007 through 2016 and found that around 2011, references to EHR mistakes began appearing more frequently. In most cases, however, EHR errors were considered contributing factors, not the primary basis of the claims.

According to the study, claims involving electronic health records increased by more than 80 times between the period from 2007 to 2010 and the period from 2011 to 2016. This number is less shocking, however, when one considers that the use of EHR was somewhat limited until the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was enacted in 2009. The HITECH Act was a federal measure that promoted the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology, including electronic health records.

Design and User Factors

The study looked a little closer at the claims and determined that EHR design flaws were referenced in half of all claims citing EHR factors, while user factors were referenced in 58 percent of such claims. User factors included data-entry mistakes, copy-and-paste errors, and ignoring system alerts.

Industry experts believe that the design errors—including issues with integration between systems—could have been reduced substantially if there had been standardization during the development stages. They claim that individual system vendors were basically free to create their own platforms with little regard for how the software could be integrated with those of other companies.

Copy-and-Paste Problems

Perhaps the biggest concern regarding EHR is the ability of doctors and nurses to copy and paste previous notes. In an effort to save time, some medical professionals simply copy and paste notes from prior rounds or appointments with little more than a cursory glance over the details. This dangerous practice can result in redundant and inaccurate information. Decisions that are then made based on the patient’s record could result in serious harm to the patient.

Call Us for Help

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that has been linked to improper use or application of electronic health records, an experienced San Jose medical malpractice attorney can help you explore your available options. Call (408) 289-1417 for a free consultation at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. today.

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