Electronic Health Records (EHR): Doctor and Hospital Liability

Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Electronic Health Records (EHR) are all the rage. Across the country, and especially here in New York, there’s a big push for doctors to transition to all-electronic recordkeeping for patients, prescriptions, and sensitive health information.

Indeed, chances are good that your doctor’s office and hospital are already using electronic health records — maybe even in ways you don’t realize. Nurses now utilize laptops or iPads when recording your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs. Your test results are often delivered by way of a website. And when your doctor asks about your medications and symptoms, you might notice her keeping track of a digital checklist along the way.

Some medical practices are even creating virtual patient portals, which may provide you with access to your medical records and recent lab results using your own mobile device — sometimes as soon as they’re available.

The rest of the world has already gone digital, and modern medicine is determined to catch up. Federal legislation recently incentivized the transition to EHR, and we’ve seen an explosion in digital file conversion ever since. Doctors and patient advocacy groups are divided as to whether that’s a good thing, but like it or not, the change is already underfoot. If your healthcare providers aren’t already using electronic health records, they likely will soon — and with greater reliance than ever before.

An all-electronic system offers a great deal of convenience for patients, and medical experts believe that their software might someday make it easier for them to save lives. But EHR isn’t perfect. In fact, a lot can go wrong, compromising patients’ privacy along the way and even endangering their lives.

As New York City medical malpractice attorneys, we’re excited about new advances in medical science, but we’re also concerned about overreliance on computer technology at the expense of patient safety. This page is designed to help New Yorkers understand a few potential problems with electronic health records and how our office can help.

Problems with Electronic Health Records (EHR) in New York

Computers aren’t perfect. If humans can make mistakes, their machines certainly can, too. Indeed, electronic health records have already led to a number of serious problems worldwide, and patients have cause to be wary.

Increasingly, doctors are relying on EHR software to warn them about potential patient safety concerns, adverse prescription interactions, differential diagnoses, and changes in patients’ vital stats or lab results over time. Unfortunately, these programs often make errors, leading doctors and nurses to overlook critical warning signs.

Nurses have been known to make mistakes when entering information into EHR systems. Many of the tablets and applications are difficult to use, and it’s all too easy for professionals to make small numerical errors (or choose the wrong response on a pop-up menu). Even something as simple as “copy & paste” has proven costly, as doctors inadvertently paste one patient’s information into another’s records.

Patient privacy is a major concern, too. Today’s patients are able to access sensitive health data as easily as their own email, leading to new fears about the security of that information. There have also been cases in which patients discover test results or diagnoses over the web before discussing them with their doctor and then, misunderstanding the results, take hasty or unwise action on their own.

Additionally, medical practices increasingly rely on EHR systems for communicating important medical information to other offices, including hospitals, specialists, and pharmacies. But when that information fails to transmit, or translates improperly, patients may be endangered by the incomplete profile that results.

Understanding Doctor & Hospital Liability for Electronic Health Records (EHR)

You are not responsible for medical mistakes caused by problems with electronic health records. Your health providers are. Even if a glitch in the software or a simple oversight is to blame, health professionals have a serious legal duty to make sure that your health records are accurate, secure, and do not jeopardize your health or wellness.

If you or a loved one has suffered and you believe that problems with electronic health records may be to blame, the New York City medical malpractice attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC can help. Please contact our office right away.

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