As technology advances in Newton and across the United States, what was meant to help medical professionals improve their treatment of patients is, in reality, believed to be leading to errors that are spurring an increase in legal filings. While electronic records are being used to have a more accurate record for treatment, the data and its integrity could cause problems for patients. There is a belief that an absence of people questioning the safety of the new technology is a factor.
The Doctors Company is a malpractice insurance company that is owned by physicians. Their review indicates that electronic health records (EHR) were part of just one percent of a sample of legal filings between 2007 and 2013. That number might not be fully accurate because litigation often takes years before it is settled one way or the other. Also, the number of cases has risen as more and more hospitals changed to EHR as their new method.
In cases where medication errors occurred, various factors led to those errors. If the EHR was using voice recognition technology, it was leaving out important words. Doctors were using records that were not accurate. Nurses misinterpreted menus as the information was logged into the computerized records.
In some cases, printouts were found to be different from what was on the computer. When this evidence is presented, juries and judges are providing plaintiffs with large awards. One incident in particular had a patient who suffered from gangrene, a rash on the skin and septic shock while the records stated the skin was “normal.” The number of cases due to this issue is currently on the lower end in numbers. However, as the number of complaints about it arise, the number of cases is expected to increase.
There are conflicting studies regarding the safety of EHR as some are showing that they are increasing the safety in hospitals. It’s easy to blame a machine when there is a mistake, but often it’s the lack of training for the person using the machine or simple human error that causes the mistake. Misread or wrong blood tests, medication errors and administering an incorrect drug are all some of the problems that can result from record keeping mistakes. If serious injury or fatality has resulted from a mistake with EHR, speaking to an attorney with experience in pursuing cases can be beneficial to seeking compensation.
Source: Politico.com, “Electronic record errors growing issue in lawsuits,” Arthur Allen, May 4, 2015