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Are Electronic Health Records Increasing Patient Error Rates?

Electronic health records are supposed to be one way that hospitals and healthcare providers can cut costs. By keeping patient information electronically, the data will be more accessible to different providers and there should be no mistakes caused by a failure to read a patient history correctly or to identify problems like medications that will interact poorly. typing

Unfortunately, the Boston Globe recently reported that some doctors are having problems with patient software and that errors are being made with electronic records that compromise patient care. If a mistake occurs and it is considered medical negligence, victims can consult with a medical malpractice attorney in New York for help taking legal action to recover compensation for damages.

Are Electronic Health Records Endangering New York Patients?

Starting in 2009, medical professionals were able to receive subsidies for switching to electronic health records. More than $30 billion in taxpayer subsidies have been provided to healthcare practitioners making the switch. There were few strings attached to receive the taxpayer funding and, unfortunately, there was no safety oversight put into place to limit the vendors who can sell electronic records systems.

The result of this has been that doctors and hospitals who were scrambling to cash in on incentives may have moved too quickly at incorporating "balky, unwieldy, and error-prone computer systems into highly sensitive clinical settings at a record pace."

Between 2008 and 2012, the rate of doctor's offices using electronic health records increased from 17 percent to 48 percent. In hospitals, the rate of electronic health records utilization increased from 13 percent to 70 percent. The scope of the change and the speed at which it occurred has outpaced the ability of both the healthcare institutions and the government regulators to track how information is being entered and whether the medical records are actually helping doctors to provide better care.

In one tragic case reported on by the Globe, a 46-year-old patient lost her life as a result of severe hypoglycemia. The hypoglycemia resulted from a medical error that has been traced, in part, to problems with electronic health records.

Multiple orders to provide the patient with insulin had been entered into separate prescribing systems that the hospital used. One of the systems was digital and one involved paper and the systems did not communicate with each other. The orders were listed under the names of different doctors an could not be matched up. As a result, two different nurses acted in response to the separate orders and the patient received much more insulin than was necessary, with fatal results.

This was not an isolated incident either. Safety researchers for a Harvard-affiliated medical malpractice insurance group reviewed a large database of malpractice claims and found that there were 147 different instances in which electronic health records contributed to "adverse events" that had an impact on patient health. Half of the incidents were serious.

Preventing mistakes in the switch to electronic health records is essential, and care providers need to ensure electronic patient data is accurate and complete in order to reduce the chances of serious and potentially fatal medical mistakes.

For more information about how a medical malpractice attorney in New York can help you with your medical malpractice case, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm, PLLC. Call 212-736-0979 to schedule a free consultation today.

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