Electronic Health Records May Contribute to Medical Malpractice

In 2004, former President George W. Bush introduced his plan to roll out Electronic Health Records (EHRs) across the country, stating, “By computerizing health records, we can avoid dangerous medical mistakes, reduce costs, and improve care.” The desire to avoid medical errors and improve the medical system overall was a major driving force behind the adoption and implementation of EHRs across the country. However, a recent study found that EHRs are contributing to increased medical malpractice claims. Once relatively rare, the increase in medical liability claims with an EHR as a contributing factor raises questions about the benefits of EHRs.

The Doctor’s Company, a medical malpractice insurer, analyzed claims from 2010 to 2018 in which EHRs contributed to injury in its 2019 research report. The pace of these claims has been on the rise, from a low of seven cases in 2010 to an average of 22.5 cases per year in 2017 and 2018. As EHRs approach near-universal adoption with an increasing risk of injuring patients, understanding how EHRs contribute to patients’ injuries can be vital to reducing your own risk of being a victim of malpractice.

Like any new technology introduced, the typical bugs associated with new software (design issues) and doctors who did not receive adequate training on the software (user-related issues) contributed to EHR-related claims.

Examples of EHR-related claims include:

  • Design Issues: At times, EHR design defects can result in serious consequences for patients. In one report, an elderly female patient who took Flonase for sinus complaints was sent to the ER with severe dizziness two weeks later. After the ER physician examined her, they discovered that she was actually taking Flomax, a medication for enlarged prostate. Because the original physician had entered the shorthand “FLO” in the order screen, the EHR selected Flomax by default without accounting for gender.
  • User Error: In another case, an obese patient with normal test results in a medical clearance test showed up in the physician’s office three weeks later, suffering from dizziness and shortness of breath. He died from a pulmonary embolism five days afterward because the physician failed to complete a full assessment, using the exact same EHR progress note from his previous test.

Patients who understand how EHRs can contribute to patients’ injuries can minimize the risk of being a victim of malpractice by being proactive and vigilant in ensuring their EHRs are accurate. At Grewal Law, PLLC, our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can also help injury victims pursue fair compensation when they have suffered from an EHR-related medical error.

Call (888) 211-5798 today to discuss your case with our Michigan legal team.

Categories