Danger of EHRs in the Realm of Medical Malpractice

The proliferation of electronic health records (EHRs) in the medical industry has resulted in a number of benefits for doctors and patients. However, it has also created some serious, negative results. The amount of work that goes into updating these records can lead to burnout and a lack of personal interaction with patients to focus on their medical care needs. Some doctors and medical professionals have felt they have turned into glorified data entry experts. For example, a particular study found that doctors use up over half of an 11.4 hour workday attending to electronic health record tasks.

In addition, the confusing nature of many electronic health record systems often leads to malfunctions and human error.

The goal of electronic health records

In a perfect environment without human error as a possibility, EHRs would enhance the experience for both medical professionals and patients. The goal of EHRs is to:

  • Allow doctors to share patient’s medical records with other providers in a seamless manner
  • Provide for easy access to one’s own medical records on mobile devices such as smartphones
  • Reduce the incidence of unnecessary or duplicative medical tests
  • Discover medical/health trends through convenient analysis of test results and medical records

The existing system is suffering from significant failures, and placing patients in danger on an everyday basis. Patients are subjected to serious risks as a result of these EHR system shortcomings. These include:

Complicated interface designs that lead to errors

Some of the interfaces and menus associated with EHR systems can leave the mouse savvy medical professional in a quandary, resulting in poor user experience and unnecessary stress. In addition, the names of medications and procedures can vary widely between systems. The information doctors need to make proper diagnosis and treatment decisions can get buried in the avalanche of data contained in each patient’s record.

Dangerous drug orders

Long, confusing menus can lead to mistakes involving the wrong selection of medications. In other cases, these systems may fail to alert the user of a dangerous or deadly drug combination.

If the user mixes up the entries for a patient’s weight and height, particularly in cases related to children, this can result in accidental overdoses and other negative consequences.

Mixed up medical records

Some patients have found that their medical record was connected to another individual entirely. In other cases lab results may go unnoticed by the proper medical professional, resulting in a delayed diagnosis and treatment. These types of errors, whether involving computer or human intelligence, can result in anything from minor inconveniences to serious injury or even death.

Medical information blocking

The purpose of electronic health records is to increase the accessibility of patient information for doctors and patients. However, some hospitals and medical centers have put obstacles in the way, limiting the ability of patients and other providers to access important medical records. This has been done at times to conceal errors or instances of medical malpractice.

Desensitization to alerts

Medical professionals receive many passive alerts and false alarms, and they can become desensitized to the alerts. This means doctors and nurses may miss the critical ones, leading to potentially life-threatening errors and outcomes.

If you are concerned that an error involving your electronic health records led to your delayed diagnosis or injury, our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC are here to help. We can fight on your behalf to hold any responsible party liable for your injuries and pursue the compensation to which you are entitled. To discuss your case in a free consultation, give us a call today at 888.302.7546 or reach us through our contact form.