Hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices of all types and sizes utilize electronic health records (EHRs) as a method of saving time and, presumably, money while caring for patients. They are also growing in popularity due to pressure from the government. In most cases, this technology works seamlessly. However, think of how many times you have experienced an error on your home computer, tablet or smartphone. When this happens to you, it is an annoyance — but when it happens in the medical setting, it can be catastrophic.
While hospitals and other institutions are quickly adopting EHRs for a variety of different reasons, when these new systems are more carefully examined, it can be seen that there exists a potential for malpractice. Consider these different ways in which EHRs can cause malpractice in practices that are operated with the utmost of care.
Design Flaws – It could be something simple, such as an autofill or autocorrect feature that changes information in a patient’s record, or something more significant, such as software being incompatible with your computer system, but design flaws can lead to major problems for patients. User Error – Utilizing EHR programs is supposed to be easy for staff, but when doctors, nurses and office staff are overworked and not properly trained, errors can occur. It takes time to get used to these new systems, and a mistake could lead to a malpractice case. Data Breach – Hackers and data breaches are all too common today. They are terrible in any situation, but in the medical industry, they could lead to tragic results. No matter how carefully an organization is run, it is possible to crack the system, and disastrous results can occur. Log-In and Fault Concerns – Most EHR systems have a method of tracking log-ins. However, they are often inaccurate. If a doctor, nurse or other employee shares his or her password, it may be impossible to determine fault in a malpractice case.
As you can see, EHRs can be a significant cause of potential malpractice incidents. Because of this, it is vital that medical practices of all types consider all of the pros and cons of electronic health records and make sure every practitioner is aware of the potential for error. By doing this, a practice is in a better position to work proactively to avoid a potential malpractice action and protect the health and well-being of all patients treated.