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Do electronic records invite medical negligence?

A medical diagnosis can sometimes involve both diagnostic testing and a doctor’s personal analysis. Said another way, some diagnoses may require the artful craftsmanship of a doctor to narrow down multiple, alternative possibilities raised by testing alone. 

Yet technology must be used properly. A recent article about electronic medical records, or EMRs, provides a case in point. Proponents of EMRs believe they can save time and increase accuracy. Many patients have already benefitted from various forms of EMRs, accessing their health records online or even through smartphone apps designed by their health care providers. 

Lawmakers apparently share a similar optimism about EMRs, as they are increasingly becoming a subject of federal regulations. One such rule requires doctors to enter their data into EMRs. 

Yet are there adequate safeguards to ensure that EMRs don’t result in preventable injuries? There may not be a uniform answer, as EMRs may vary based upon the particular vendor. For example, some EMRs may use drop down menus for diagnoses. With a simple misdirected mouse click, could a doctor inadvertently misdiagnose a patient? 

Other concerns about EMRs involve the amount of time it takes doctors to navigate through the various fields on screen. Since doctors cannot delegate this task, is data entry taking away from their in-person patient time?

Our law firm focuses on personal injury lawsuits. We know that negligence can take many forms in the medical arena. Even if a patient injury was attributable to erroneous data entry in an EMR, a claim for medical negligence against the doctor may be sustainable. In addition, there may be other parties against whom a theory of liability could be asserted, such as the technology vendor. Check out our website to learn more. 

Source: Computer World, “Lawyers smell blood in electronic medical records,” Lucas Mearian, April 13, 2015

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