Study Says Electronic Health Records are Responsible for More Malpractice Claims
Your medical records provide your doctors with necessary information regarding your allergies, current medications, and past surgeries. What happens if some of the information is left out? What happens when your doctor is not aware of a serious allergy?
The results could, in some cases, be fatal. In other cases, they could lead to severe complications that could have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of your life.
Now, one study suggests that is exactly what’s happening. Cases in which EHR (electronic health records) was a major factor grew from 2 between 2007 to 2011 to 161 from 2011 to 2016. While the odds are still good that your medical records are accurate, the escalation in the number of claims related to medical records is shocking.
Annette Monachelli’s Story
Annette Monachelli went to the hospital complaining of severe pain in her head. The pain got worse when she changed positions. Her doctor, considering the possibility of an aneurysm, ordered a head scan through the software system—an EHR system designed by eClinicalWorks.
Two months later, she died of an aneurysm. Monachelli’s husband sued the health center where she was treated. The attorney who took over the case began investigating her death. He discovered that the doctor had considered an aneurysm and ordered a head scan to rule out the possibility. But the EHR system that the clinic used for such orders never transmitted the request. Had the system done so, the doctor would have been able to discover the bleeding much earlier and perhaps been able to repair the blood vessel. But the test was never ordered, and Mrs. Monachelli died as a result.
What the Study Has to Say
The Doctors Company released a study that indicated that EHR systems throughout the U.S. involved similar problems. These failures resulted in several medical malpractice claims related to system failure. These include:
- Fragmented records that are not updated across multiple platforms;
- Lack of provider access to records due to system failure;
- Failure to route data or keep consistent records;
- Limitations related to what data can be entered and the usefulness of that data;
- Conversion errors between different types of EHR records;
- Lack of alerts related to tests that have been ordered but never received; and
- Security issues making the EHR reports more susceptible to hackers.
In other cases, the way doctors were using the EHR system contributed to malpractice claims. This included prepopulating fields and copy/paste functions. There is also some indication that doctors are not being adequately trained to use this software.
In order for these problems to be sufficiently solved, records data will need to be standardized to ensure that EHR systems can communicate with one another, doctors need to be trained on these systems, and there needs to be a system of alerts that prevent tragedies like in the case of Annette Monachelli.
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