The Malpractice Risks of Electronic Health Records

August 24, 2016
OROS Risk Solutions, LLC
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The use of Electronic Health Records to replace traditional patient charts is a seemingly modern and convenient solution to meet the demand for large amounts of crucial information across a vast medical field. However, alongside the benefit of new technology comes the risk of misuse and error that can result in serious litigation, patient injury, and even death. In 2013, CRICO, the medical malpractice insurer for Harvard Medical community found 147 cases of medical malpractice in which failure or misuse of EHR played a prominent factor. Half of the cases resulted in severe injury to the patient. Fortunately, many of these errors are avoidable with due consideration and preventative Florida medical malpractice insurance. Be sure that you and your staff are prepared for these common but potentially critical errors.

Cloning Errors

1 in every 10 malpractice cases involving EHRs was the result of information “cloning”, being copied and pasted, without regards to important changes between visits. Overly frequent use of copy and paste can both unintentionally omit crucial information as well as overemphasize less critical details. A single typo or error will be repeated indefinitely when the same inaccurate information is cloned without review. The same errors can result with pre-populating data fields in a patient’s records. Many physicians make the pivotal error of failing to simply confirm information with the patient as the records are being filled. When researching a dependable medical malpractice insurance in Florida, countless time, money, and lives can be spared by remembering to continue an inclusive and attentive dialogue with everyone seeking treatment. 

Data Errors

Glitches, crashes, and calculation errors are commonplace to every computer and every software program in the world, but in the medical field, slight systematic errors from failed electronic routing or EHR conversion can lead to a disastrous and costly end. 16 percent of malpractice cases involving EHR issues stemmed from difficulties with hybrid health records, and 22 percent resulted from system failures that could not produce accurate and up to date information. When a computer autocorrects information, the altered error is easily overlooked. Valuable notes from a recent visit can vanish in a power surge and be overlooked forever. Even the slightest errors could lead to a serious prescription error that seriously threatens a person’s health and life. It is important for medical professionals to verify all information provided by the system.

Lost Information

1 in 5 malpractice cases involving EHR was simply the result of incorrect information. The technology, though immensely beneficial and valuable for time and costs, is relatively young and sometimes contains gaps of necessary information. A doctor may still write a prescription unaware that the patient has been prescribed a conflicting medication from an office that has not kept up to date with EHR. The most common result in medical malpractice suits involving EHR is misdiagnosis due to incomplete information. Sadly, this error can often be avoided by confirming details like prescriptions and medical history with the patient and not solely relying on information in the system. 

Security Risks

Any information saved on a computer and shared over a network is at risk for cyber theft. The right Florida medical malpractice insurance can keep your office safeguarded in the unfortunate loss of computer information. Unfortunately, even the best encryption programs and security software are at constant risk for attack. It is the ethical and legal obligation of medical professionals to utilize the best available technology to secure the information and privacy of patients.

User Errors

14 percent of EHR-related malpractice suits were related to user errors, either due to inadequate training or accidental misuse. Software programs can be variable and complex, not a situation to be taken lightly. When used properly, advanced technologies provide an invaluable resource to the medical field. However, without making considerable effort to learn and understand the exact methods, costly errors can be made. Extensive and ongoing training for the technology used in any medical office is not only a necessary preventative but also a valuable asset to better assist patients. 

As technology advances and grows, so too do the miscalculations, missteps, and risks. Modern medicine is flourishing in a fast paced world, but amid the torrents of information flowing throughout offices and communities are the inevitable (yet still avoidable) marks of human error. In many cases, verbal confirmation between doctors and patients proves invaluable in the health and well-being of everyone involved. However, even with the utmost caution, the risk of an incident exists, requiring access to reliable Florida medical malpractice insurance – which is where Oros Risk LLC is here to help with all your malpractice insurance needs!