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Faulty electronic medical records are causing injuries to patients

One of the most important things that take place at medical offices and hospitals is the record-keeping. When patient records are not both accurate and accessible to those that need them, this can create information gaps causing doctors and other medical professionals to make decisions about a patient's care without having all of the necessary information. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to mistakes that harm patients.

In this day and age, most hospitals and medical offices here in Michigan either keep their records electronically or are in the process of moving paper records into computer systems. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 100,000 health care providers were using electronic records as of June. While computerized record-keeping has been admired for its efficiency, it is also linked to instances of medical errors and the federal government is now attempting to tackle this issue.

Computerized medical records have been linked to dozens of injuries as well as several patient deaths. These instances were reportedly caused by medication errors due to the small font size on the records or lost or misdated test results in the records leading to delayed treatment or unnecessary treatments.

The actual number of medical errors that is linked to electronic medical records is unknown because health care providers are not required to report such adverse events linked to the medical records software. Earlier this month, the Obama administration asked software companies and caregivers to voluntarily analyze medical mistakes and risks that the software poses and to track the software's performance.

The government stopped short of requiring doctors to report risks and mistakes. This upset some patients' advocates who feel the electronic record-keeping systems should be subject to regulation in the same vein as medical devices.

The future of this issue remains to be seen. It is a reminder, however, that as technology continues to advance medical care, it can also be problematic in and of itself.

Source: Kaiser Health News, "HHS Stops Short Of Calling For Safety Regulation Of Digital Records," Jay Hancock, Dec. 21, 2012

  • Our Ann Arbor law firm helps victims of medical mistakes or malpractice obtain compensation for their injuries and losses. To learn more about this area of our practice, please visit our Medical Malpractice page.

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