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Malpractice Alert! Report Finds Flaws in Electronic Health Records

Many Rochester residents would agree that today's technology makes our lives simpler. A visit to the local doctor's office may go more smoothly if the office has switched to electronic health records (EHRs), which provide doctors with more accurate information and reduce errors from sloppy handwriting. They also guarantee that all providers have access to the same patient information.However, a recent report published by the AC Group, a health information research technology and consulting firm, advises federal officials to slow down a program that is trying to get hospitals and medical offices to use EHRs.The authors fear that tight deadlines will cause vendors to rush through testing the software and training the staff. As a result, many hospitals and medical offices that are rushing to move to EHRs may end up with inadequate software. Medical mistakes that result from inadequate EHR systems could result in greater likelihood of inattentive doctors facing medical malpractice lawsuits.Another problem with most EHRs is that they do not have the personal touch that comes along with normal handwritten records. Many alerts coming from EHRs are not customized based on family medical or social history. If there is an order for a drug, they also will not check the order against any lab results. Doctors in New York whose failure to follow through results in the injury or death of a patient may find themselves may face a lawsuit from Rochester laboratory error lawyers.The authors examined 42 EHRs that were already in place and found the following results:
  • Nearly 90 percent were unable to issue drug-lab alerts
  • 80 percent or more did not do the proper checks for drug interactions during prescription refills
  • 60 percent did not update to show changes in recommended patient treatments
Like most software, EHRs are also able to store large volumes of data. However, without proper training, this could overwhelm doctors and medical staff. Both physicians and their staff must have the ability to locate and review all of the information to provide their patients with a complete and thorough assessment.Doctors and medical professionals need to understand that the addition of EHRs to their practices does not negate their duty to make sure their patients are receiving the proper care. EHRs should be a means of facilitating their practice, but cannot be relied on to do their work for them.Source: www.renalandurologynews.com, "Electronic Records May Increase Malpractice Risk," Ann W. Latner, 13 December 2011

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