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What are the Risks of Electronic Medical Record Errors?

May 20, 2020

An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is an electronic version of a patient’s medical chart that’s used by healthcare professionals. A significant benefit of EMRs over hard-copy patient records is that they are real-time records that make information available instantly and securely to healthcare professionals. An EMR can contain a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, prescriptions, treatments, dates of immunization, known allergies, x-rays, CT scans, lab results, etc.

EMRs are designed to contain a record of the total health of a patient and to go beyond the standard clinical data collected in a provider’s office. Electronic medical records were made to be an inclusive and broader view of a patient’s care. EMRs were designed to be available whenever and wherever it is needed by a physician or other healthcare professionals.

While EMRs are designed to make for efficient, streamlined healthcare provider workflow, there are significant medical liability risks with electronic health information exchange. This includes problems such as, failing to adequately train physicians and staff on proper use, program design flaws, increased pressure to rush and failing to input accurate or adequate notes, not entering important test results, or putting referral or other important information in the wrong location.

Electronic Medical Record Errors on the Rise

There has been a dramatic increase in medical malpractice because of electronic medical records (EMR) or Electronic Health Records (EHR). In the most recent available data, between 2010 and 2018, EMR-related claims in medical malpractice tripled. It was found that EMR-related claims were caused by either system technology and design issues or by user-related issues.

EMRs have created many new liability risks. These potential risks include the following examples:

  • The use of “copy and paste” of patient information and data rather than entering notes from a new history and physical examination.
  • Short-cuts that risk missing new or changing information which allow the continuing use of prior inaccuracies.
  • E-mail advice requiring use of patient portals that can significantly increase the number of patient interactions leading to more chances for mistakes.
  • The increased use of telemedicine which increases risk of medical advice and diagnoses not being sufficiently recorded.
  • Failing to respond to e-mail communications in a timely manner.
  • Information overload that can result in physicians missing important clinical information.
  • Healthcare providers entering information into the wrong location in the system.

Also, the failure to adopt and use electronic technology may establish a deviation from the standard of care. The ubiquitous use of the EMR may increase a physician’s duty to search the extensive data generated by health care providers.

EMR Systems May Lack Interoperability, Causing Patient Injuries and Death

One of the most significant issues with electronic medical records is the lack of interoperability between disparate systems, which is the ability of healthcare systems to communicate effectively with each other. This is critical in order to have a complete picture of a patient’s medical history.

Some issues surrounding interoperability between healthcare systems that have led in injury and death include:

  • Patient medication lists were unreliable;
  • Prescribed drugs did not appear in the patient’s record;
  • Discontinued drugs appeared as current;
  • Failure to warn physicians of dangerous drug interactions;
  • Failure to use standard drug, lab, and diagnosis codes;
  • Prescriptions without the right start and stop dates; and
  • Displaying another patient’s medication profile and physician notes.

These types of errors create misdiagnoses and the prescribing of medicine to the wrong patient, as well as under- or over-medication. The result of these EMR errors can be devastating.

Contact a Michigan Malpractice Attorney

Today, 96% of hospitals have adopted EMRs, an increase from just 9% in 2008. Thus, nearly all healthcare professionals are now using EMRs. As a result, there’s a chance that you or a family member will be involved in an unfortunate error caused by a physician or hospital’s error with an electronic medical record while under their care or treatment. If so, know that injured patients may be entitled to compensation for serious injuries.

For a free consultation with an experienced Michigan medical malpractice attorney, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home, or in the hospital to accommodate your needs.

Contact us today!