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Inaccurate electronic medical records and doctor errors

Doctor's offices, hospitals and other health care providers in Louisiana are adapting to the government-imposed transition from traditional paper systems for maintaining patient records to electronic medical records.

A recent study has uncovered evidence of mistakes and omissions in electronic records that is causing concern among medical professionals.

Investigators reviewing the electronic records of patients following surgery found that only about one-third of the patient charts were free of mistakes or omissions. According to medical professionals who are familiar with electronic record systems, the cause is that the accuracy of the data in the systems depends upon the reliability of the people entering it.

Doctor errors in entering information into patient charts occurred with paper record systems, but some experts are concerned that electronic systems encourage doctors and nurses to use shortcuts to enter information into a patient's file.

Inaccurate information in a patient's medical records might lead to medical malpractice caused by a doctor's failure to diagnose a patient's medical condition or a misdiagnosis.

An anesthesia error attributable to a doctor relying on erroneous information in a patient chart may result in a worsened medical condition for the unsuspecting patient.

The investigators noted that recording information about patients is more time consuming for doctors and medical professionals when they use the electronic systems.

Those familiar with the study noted that saving time might encourage physicians and nurses to resort to copying and pasting information without adequately reviewing it for accuracy. One doctor suggested that medical professionals who are aware of the problem with electronic patient records might not be publicly critical of the systems, but they are nonetheless assuming that what they see in a patient chart might be inaccurate.

Patients who believe they may have suffered from a personal injury or worsened medical condition due to medical professional negligence or medical malpractice may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

A medical malpractice attorney might be of assistance by reviewing the facts and circumstance of a claim to determine a patient’s rights.

Source: Medscape, "Human Error Seeps into Electronic Medical Records," Lara C. Pullen, PhD, Nov. 6, 2014

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