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EHR errors may lead to medical malpractice lawsuits

The advancement of technology has had positive impacts on various industries, including the medical industry, in Pennsylvania and other states. Electronic health recording (EHR) is rapidly replacing handwritten medical records and even written prescriptions by doctors. EHR allows physicians access to medical records of patients, regardless of where and by whom patients were treated before. However, system and operator errors can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits.

A review indicated that recent medical liability claims were comprised of 42 percent system errors and 64 percent user errors. User errors can result from inadequate operator training and errors made during the transfer of existing documented records to EHR online systems. Incorrect information provided to the person capturing the data and the use of the copy and paste technique to populate a patient's profile can lead to unnoticed errors that may have severe consequences.

An example of a claim based upon EHR errors involved a child who returned from a country known for the prevalence of tuberculosis. The doctor prescribed flu medication, antibiotics and fluids because an insect bite was suspected and the child's symptoms included a rash, fussiness and fever. However, when the child's information was recorded on EHR -- and subsequently copied and pasted after more medical treatment -- no mention was made of the exposure to TB. Within two weeks, the child developed tuberculosis meningitis that resulted in severe, permanent cognitive defects.

Pennsylvania patients will expect their physicians to be aware of -- and prevent -- potential risks of using EHR. However, victims suffering the consequences of such negligence are entitled to pursue financial recovery of damages suffered. Proving negligence and identifying the responsible party can be complicated and may be best navigated by an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Successful presentation in a civil court may lead to a monetary judgment to cover financial and emotional losses sustained -- both current and future.

Source: aappublications.org, "Lessons learned from EHR-related medical malpractice cases", Richard L. Oken, Aug. 8, 2016

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