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Electronic Health Records and Medical Malpractice

Casey Woodruff

electronic medical recordsMore hospitals and patient facilities are turning to electronic health records (EHRs) to keep track of patients’ medical histories, but according to a recent article in Medscape, EHRs could pose serious risks of medical malpractice. If you are a patient in Naperville and learn that you have suffered a preventable injury due to a drug-allergy interaction, for instance, you might consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. As the article emphasizes, EHRs may seem like a better way to keep patient records, avoiding some consequences of human error. However, until physicians, nurses, and other hospital staff members use EHRs exactly as they were intended (without making any mistakes in the system), the risks of medical negligence could in fact increase.

Learning More About EHRs in Naperville

To better understand how medical malpractice risks can come with the introduction of EHRs, we should take a closer look at how these systems work. In short, they are records that are kept electronically—as the name suggests—but they still require human input. For example, these tools have patient portals through which patients and doctors can send secure messages. Then, when a secure message is received, the physician’s office should log it into the patient’s file (along with any kind of advice given in a response) to keep track of the patient’s recent health history.

These systems also contain valuable information about patients’ drug allergies and other health conditions. In general, this is a good thing—doctors can know about a potentially harmful drug interaction just by logging into the system (and without sorting through hard-copy materials, during which time a mistake could be made). However, in order for the system to identify a potentially dangerous allergy, that allergy information needs to be entered properly in the first place. Otherwise, you can imagine a scenario in which a doctor sees that the EHR identifies no drug interactions and prescribes a certain medication, only to learn that the system failed to detect the allergy because it was not entered into the record properly.

Steps for Effective Healthcare and Making the Most of EHRs

What can hospitals and other healthcare facilities do to improve the efficacy of EHRs? The article suggests the following steps:

  • Ensure that everyone at the healthcare facility has proper training when it comes to using the EHR, taking into account the specialized kinds of care provided at your facility.
  • Continue to monitor patients and their treatment schedule manually while using EHRs.
  • Regularly review the results of the EHR in relation to the practices and standards of your specific healthcare facility and area of medicine.
  • Regularly monitor the “integrity of the patient record” to ensure that patient data remains confidential.

Contact a DuPage County Medical Malpractice Attorney 

In the long run, the switch to EHRs likely will help with patient safety.  However, until all healthcare facilities are on the same page and are using the systems as they were intended, there may be increased risks of medical mistakes. If you or someone you love recently sustained injuries as a result of medical negligence, you should discuss your case with a DuPage County medical malpractice attorneyas soon as possible. Contact Woodruff Johnson & Evans today for more information about our services.

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