Van-Lear Eckert
Experienced Southern Illinois Attorney
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Electronic health records and malpractice

| Sep 5, 2019 | Personal Injury |

Electronic health records were intended to apply information technology to the necessary task of documenting patient care. The percentage of physicians using EHRS grew by 15% since 2009. But the number of personal injury claims involving these electronic records also rose.

According to the medical malpractice insurer, The Doctors Company, the number of its paid malpractice claims rose from seven in 2010 to an average 22.5 claims in 2017 and 2018. Over the last eight years, 216 EHR related claims were closed.

These still constitute only a small part of malpractice claims. EHRs were involved in 1.39 percent of claims in 2018, which was an increase from 1.02% in 2017 and 0.35% in 2010. The growing number of physicians using these records has led to the greater number of EHR-related claims, according to one expert. The Doctors Company said that EHRs are only a contributing part of these malpractice claims. Doctors have made more errors because they have not been paying as much attention to their work with computer software.

The EHR components of closed claims from 2010 to 2018 were caused by system technology and design issues or other user-related matters. These included record failures, alert failures, fragmented records, electronic data routing failures, inadequate area for documentation and incompatible systems. Simple human error were also involved in these claims. These include entering incorrect information, copying and pasting, conversion problems with hybrid records, insufficient training, alert issues and fatigue, and computer entry workarounds.

Copying and pasting information is a special problem. When doctors copy an earlier note into the current one, for example, they may not always document changes in the patient’s condition. When doctors click hundred of times each day on drop-down menus, they can make errors that are repeated across a system in their facility’s system and other organizations, such as pharmacies and other medical providers. Even if a physician corrects errors, the mistakes in other systems are not fixed.

Primary care doctors such as family physicians and internists are more likely to be sued for

EHR-related claims. Experts believe that they see more patients than specialists and for a wider number of complaints that encourage the use of drop-down menus and cutting and pasting.

An attorney can assist malpractice victims seek evidence in their pursuit of a medical malpractice action. They can also assure that a lawsuit is timely filed, helping the injured patient understand their rights and options throughout the process.