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Medical malpractice: System and operator errors in EHR systems

Electronic health records (EHR) are fast replacing handwritten and typed medical records of patients. The aim is for physicians to provide better care, create a healthier population and lower the per capita health care costs. So far, it has improved documentation and legibility of medical documents and records.

EHR system development is still evolving, and you might benefit from learning which factors are potential role players in medical malpractice claims. Here are six possible EHR liability issues that have been identified in the field of pediatrics -- including both system and operator mistakes:

  1. Information exchange: EHR is to be interoperable in its ability to exchange data with other systems on which records of patients may be registered, giving a doctor immediate access to the medical history of your child. However, during this developmental stage, a pediatrician may miss vital information if visits to emergency departments, admissions to hospitals, reports by subspecialists and results from laboratories do not show up on inquiries.
  2. Electronic prescriptions: EHR programs include e-prescribing facilities that transmit electronic prescriptions directly to the chosen pharmacies. However, a child's body weight often determines medication dosages, and errors can threaten their lives. Some systems can validate dosages, check for dangerous drug interactions and include prescriptions from different doctors for the same patient. Unfortunately, those that cannot do this, or those that are not programmed to use drugs specifically for pediatric patients can pose serious risks. It is vital for such a system to store the prescription details from other programs to prevent medication errors.
  3. Record cloning: While copy-and-paste features may be beneficial, for administrative purposes in the medical industry they can pose significant risks. Errors when transferring clinical information in this way can have tragic consequences.
  4. EHR security: Because electronic devices contain all the information related to all patients -- including those held by other medical facilities through interoperability features -- EHR security features such as encryption are vital, and theft of electronic devices and cyber-attacks can lead to violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
  5. Incorporation of reports: When your child's lab results, x-rays, and electronic reports reach the admin office for capturing on the EHR system, any errors could be disastrous. The responsibility of accurately incorporating the records with existing details of the right person at all times is a significant one, and even slight errors can have devastating consequences.
  6. CPT coding: Although errors in up-coding the billing system with CPT codes do not threaten lives, it can cause overpayments that might lead to accusations of abuse and fraud.

Armed with this knowledge, you might be able to ensure all the role players in your child's treatment are working with accurate information throughout the process. For Texas parents who are already suffering the consequences of any of the above issues regarding the EHR system, a consultation with a skilled medical malpractice attorney might be the most logical step to take. An attorney can provide you with peace of mind during this challenging time and will fight to ensure that you receive all restitution to which you are entitled.

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