The federal government has offered $30 billion in incentives to help encourage doctors to transition to electronic medical records and to offset the costs of making the switch. The belief is that these digital records will improve the quality of patient care by digitizing patient histories and making more medical information available to providers. While incentives have been the primary means of encouraging compliance with new electronic records requirements, doctors are now being warned that they will start to face a penalty if they don't begin keeping patient data electronically.
While the goal is to improve the treatment that patients receive, some providers warn that the technology is ineffective and in need of improvement and that requiring a switch to digital records could make things worse. A medical malpractice attorney in New York knows that there are potential safety problems and risks associated with imperfect technology, and it is important that any transition to a new process of keeping patient data be made carefully while keeping safety concerns in mind.
Electronic Records Risks for Patients
USA Today reports that many providers have expressed concern about making a change to electronic records. A total of 37 medical societies, led by the American Medical Association, sent a letter expressing their concern to Health and Human Services. The letter warned that the systems decreased efficiency, were cumbersome and presented safety issues.
Some of the possible safety issues include information being dropped accidentally from the records, or self-populating computer fields that could result in the wrong information being posted on a patient's chart. The possibility of cutting and pasting information also could lead to medical errors. Not only that, but in a survey of 10,000 doctors, 15 percent said that electronic records had resulted in the wrong lab order or wrong medication being chosen.
A hospital rating organization also found that physician order entry systems failed to check issues such as medication allergies in around a third of cases.
Prescribing drugs is a particular problem with electronic records. Eighteen medical groups also asked the governor, health commission and legislature in New York to delay the implantation of new requirements mandating prescriptions by electronically processed. Their concern is that the new systems are not certified by the Drug Enforcement Agency to allow for controlled substances to be prescribed electronically.
The systems can be cumbersome for physicians to use as well, which results in doctors spending much more time with the electronic records systems than with old methods of keeping patient records. More time spent entering information into the computer means that there is less time to spend with patients, which in turn means less chance of learning about small symptoms that could suggest major medical problems.
Hundreds of different records systems exist as well, and many of these programs don't even communicate with each other, which means that the benefits promised of having broader access to patient information may not materialize.
With all of these different problems, it is important to carefully consider whether these new systems are going to help or harm patient care.
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 or visit http://www.jcreiterlaw.com and schedule a free consultation today.