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Electronic records no guarantee against error

More and more businesses and industries, in an effort to cut costs and streamline operations have been turning to electronic record-keeping in recent years. In the field of health care, the use of electronic health records is becoming a widespread trend, with many in the health care industry expecting that an electronic record system could help cut down on errors and the patient harm—and provider liability—that stems from these errors.

Not surprisingly, it is becoming increasingly clear that the use of electronic records in health care is not a safeguard against all error. More and more medical malpractice lawsuits are involving mistakes in the use of these records, such as misinterpretation of drop-down menus, errors in patient status, typos leading to medication errors, faulty voice-recognition software, and at times plainly inaccurate record-keeping.

Although some research has shown that patient safety is improved when electronic health records are adopted, the findings vary. Part of the reason for this, some argue, is that the full impact of the adoption of electronic record keeping systems has not yet been felt. Some of it may also be because problems with electronic health record systems are sometimes wrongly blamed on other factors.

Whatever the case may be with respect to the overall safety of electronic health records, patients who have been harmed as a result of technology-related errors deserve to be compensated for their injuries. In some cases, the consequences can be serious. Having a strong advocate can help ensure that a patient receives the advocacy he or she deserves.

Source: Politico.com, “Electronic record errors growing issue in lawsuits,” Arthur Allen, May 4, 2015. 

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