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Electronic records a surprising source for medical malpractice

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Medical technology is improving at a rapid pace. This is generally expected to help patients with their treatment and recovery with a reduction in avoidable errors. For those in Northwest Ohio, Michigan and the nearby areas, one of the last things they expect when they are receiving treatment from a hospital or medical facility is a mistake based on new record-keeping practices. Statistically, electronic health records (EHRs) have proven to be problematic in preventing mistakes. This could be a factor in a negative outcome with patient injury and death. It might warrant a medical malpractice legal filing.

Past research from more than two decades ago showed that nearly 100,000 people died because of medical errors committed in a hospital setting. EHRs were a strategy to reduce this troubling number as a substantial portion of these errors were because of medication mistakes that EHRs were expected to flag and prevent. Since EHRs came into widespread use, the results have been disappointing considering the expectations. There has been an improvement, but it has not been as drastic as medical professionals hoped.

Using information from 2009 to 2018 from more than 2,300 hospitals, safety varied based on how EHRs were used. Using simulations for medication orders from doctors and errors that would have occurred with negative drug interactions, overdoses and other potential dangers, there were troubling conclusions. Catching drug allergies did well. On average, catching these mistakes improved by more than 98% from almost 93% a decade earlier. Drugs that were dangerous if mixed rose to more than 33% from just over 20%. Clinical decisions improved to 46.1% from almost 30%. Basic safety requirements were met in an average of fewer than 70% of the cases. Vendors of the EHRs were critical in the variation of performance at nearly 10%.

This is not to say the EHRs were irrelevant for patient safety. Still, the improvement was relatively modest. Medical malpractice is often categorized as a doctor making a surgical error like operating on the wrong patient or wrong body part, leaving equipment inside a patient, or performing unnecessary procedures. Other factors that lead to negative outcomes include a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. For example, if a person has treatable cancer and it is not diagnosed in time for the patient to receive proper treatment, it can lead to a worsened condition or death. Then there are medication errors which can cause major damage and frequently goes undetected.

If EHRs contributed to a poor result, gathering evidence and considering the legal options is key. Legal professionals who provide personal service, are skilled at investigation, know how to negotiate settlements and can handle cases that must go to trial may be crucial to receive sufficient compensation for all that was lost. That includes medical expenses, lost wages and more. Calling for a consultation can be helpful in determining how to move forward with a medical malpractice claim.