dark emergency room hallway

Technical Errors Put Clients at Risk

Filed Under: , Best Practices
June 5, 2024 by Madison Bratley

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Challenges and Risks Associated with EMR Systems

With all the benefits that electronic medical records (EMR) offer, there remain opportunities for incorrect data entry due to problems with system design and user error. Between 2010 and 2018, EMR-related medical malpractice claims tripled and were caused by either system technology and design issues or user-related issues.

While EMRs are designed to make for streamlined healthcare provider workflow, electronic health information exchange has significant medical liability risks.

Problems such as failing to adequately train physicians and staff on proper use, program design flaws, increased pressure to rush and fail to input accurate or adequate notes, not entering important test results, or putting referrals or other valuable information in the wrong location.

Accuracy and Errors in Health Records

In a 2020 study, over 136,000 patients were surveyed about the accuracy of their health records viewed electronically. Almost half of the participants noted errors in their reports such as medication, surgeries, etc. Patients identified that some practitioners reported the wrong test results and others were not aware that more recent results or reports existed.
Several studies have reported EHR-related medication errors. For instance, 22 types of medication errors were facilitated by computerized physician order entry (CPOE). Studies also found that 19% of all medication errors identified in a pediatric ICU were related to CPOE.
Popular systems are prone to many types of medication error risks. Findings have shown pharmacy inventory displays being mistaken for dosage guidelines, CPOE display screens that prevent a clear view of the prescribed medications, rigid ordering formats that produce wrong orders, etc.

Another problem is that physicians’ tendency to copy-paste patient data can result in mistakes that get repeated across various data forms. This simple copy-paste function of the EMR also creates problems as regards authorship when a medical record is investigated for some legal purpose.

Although the ability to copy-paste text is a central benefit of computing in general, the widespread adoption of EMRs has led to concerns about how copy-and-paste functionality is being employed in health care. The use of copy-paste in medical documentation raises many concerns. The use may contribute to the introduction of inaccurate information within patients’ records and cloud the judgment of subsequent providers. Copy-paste also makes it easy to create long, rambling notes that do not clearly convey the status of a patient and can distract a reader from important concerns.

Legal Implications and Malpractice Cases

Like most medical errors, EMR-related errors can result in malpractice and a potential lawsuit for patients to act upon.
An OB-GYN facility in Connecticut reached a $2 million settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit in December of 2020, after a couple claimed that genetic testing they had ordered during pregnancy was never performed. A woman sued OB-GYN Services in November 2018, shortly after the birth of her second child, who has cystic fibrosis.

The woman had asked for genetic testing when she was pregnant with her first child in 2016, but a cystic fibrosis screening was never done due to issues with the electronic health records (EHR). She did not request a test during her second pregnancy, believing one had already been performed two years prior.

As more issues and cases grow from EMR-related matters, attorneys should make sure to provide proper counsel for their clients. Rather it’s representing patients or medical facilities, it is important to continuously stay up to date on current trends and what is occurring in the world of EMR negligence.

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