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Are Computers Distracting Doctors?

November 13th, 2018
By Zach Christiansen of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation on Tuesday, November 13, 2018.

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana. A recent New Yorker article indicates that doctors spend an estimated two hours on the computer for every hour they spend with patients. While we might have been sold on the idea that computers would change medicine for the better, some are starting to wonder whether computers are more of a distraction than anything else. In fact, according to a doctor writing for the New Yorker, doctors may spend as much as half their time in the examination room looking at their computers rather than looking at patients. This means that there’s less time for doctors to listen to their patients’ questions, and less time for examination. When automation replaces the personal touch, there’s always a risk that the value a doctor brings–his or her expertise, might be replaced with generic questions and rote tasks.

As more doctors use electronic health records to track patient’s progress, leaders in the medical field like Harvard have noted the malpractice risks linked to medical health records. While we often think of medical malpractice as something that happens on the operating table, the reality is that misread or misreported medical records can lead to medical malpractice. Factors that led to medical errors included: user error (when doctors didn’t know how to properly use the system), incorrect information provided on the patient in the record, pre-population/copy paste errors, problems when doctors migrated between two medical records systems, and software problems.

Recently news outlets have been exploring how a hospital’s transition to a new computer system can lead to medical errors. The New Yorker reports that when doctors transferred from one system to another, the new system didn’t always properly log medications. This can lead to serious medication errors if doctors aren’t made aware of the risk or if they fail to double check the patient’s medication before administering any drug.

Another risk that computer programs present is an increased workload for doctors. This can lead to burnout. No patient wants to work with a burned-out doctor. According to the New Yorker, burned out doctors feel ineffective, are exhausted emotionally, and may be cynical in their interpersonal interactions. In a study of doctor burnout, over half of doctors showed at least one of the major indications of burnout.

Other doctors expressed concern that online systems reduced hospital teamwork. Doctors sent emails that went unread, rather than meeting up and discussing patients with their team.

At the end of the day, doctors and hospitals need to be made more aware of the risk that medical records can pose when it comes to medical malpractice. Have you been hurt due to a medical error as a result of poor medical records? The The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm are medical malpractice lawyers in New Orleans, Louisiana who work closely with individuals and families who have been impacted due to medical errors. Medical errors can be devastating. Victims may face days to weeks of additional hospitalization and care when medications are administered wrongly or are missed. If you have questions about your rights following a medical malpractice injury visit us at to learn more.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation

1615 Poydras Street, Suite 1050

New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112

Phone: (504) 586-5200

Toll Free: (504) 586-5200

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