Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers Discuss Electronic Health Records

Many doctors and hospitals have adopted Electronic Health Records (EHR) in an effort to create more streamlined record keeping and improve legibility, compared to handwritten records. In addition, many believe that this technology has played a significant role in helping physicians achieve the trifecta of improved care, better population health, and reduced health care costs per capita. However, according to malpractice insurers, there are certain circumstances where an EHR can be a medical liability.

In a recent review of medical malpractice claims that were related to EHRs, medical liability insurers found that 42 percent were the result of system errors and 64 percent were from user errors. A number of factors contributed to why EHRs can contribute to medical liability.

  • Inoperability: The number of office-based pediatricians using EHRs has grown from 58 percent in 2009 to 79 percent in 2012. However, problems can arise when primary care physicians are not aware that they do not have immediate access to a patient’s health history, including hospital visits, laboratory results, and acute care facilities, due to inoperability issues. When EHRs are not properly streamlined, in can lead to a range of problems that could put a patient’s health at risk, as well as the pediatrician’s reputation.
  • E-prescribing: Close to half of all pediatric offices have transitioned from prescription pads to electronic prescription programs. However, not all programs are capable of validating appropriate dosages and drug interactions for pediatric patients. This can cause serious safety issues, putting children’s health at risk. It is the pediatrician’s responsibility to make sure that the EHR is programmed to address correct dosing issues related to pediatric patients.
  • Copying and Pasting Information: The process of copying and pasting clinical information from a past visit can result in serious injury for a patient, particularly when incorrect information is duplicated.
  • Security: If a laptop is stolen, a patient’s confidential medical information can be exposed. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all devices that contain patient information to be encrypted and password protected.
  • Inefficient Report Management: When the appropriate provider fails to review electronic reports before the patient information is incorporated into the EHR, there is a significant risk of a medical mistake.
  • Transition Issues: It is a huge undertaking to transition from paper to electronic charts. Physicians must abide by state and federal record retention laws before they can destroy written records. They should also implement an EHR continuity plan in case of any unforeseen events.
  • Upcoding: Pediatric services have specific codes that address the unique medical services provided to children. Improper coding can cause serious problems.

For the most part, the benefits of EHRs far outweigh the risks, but it is important to be aware of them in order to prevent medical errors.

Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect Victims of Medical Negligence

 If an EHR error has caused you or a loved one to become sick or injured, you may be entitled to compensation. Maryland medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton are on your side and will aggressively pursue the person who is responsible for your pain and suffering. We will not stop until we obtain the maximum financial compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent victims of medical malpractice throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.