Digital records could increase medical malpractice suits

There’s the saying that computers are supposed to make our lives easier. However, for doctors in Florida, transitioning from paper health records to digital records could actually make matters worse and lead to an increased number of medical malpractice suits.

Electronic health records were created to reduce the number of medical mistakes as well as overall costs. Ironically, a new report from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority is stating that medical mistakes have increased — and in unique ways — since the adoption of electronic records. In one state alone, errors have increased from 41 in 2004 to 1,142 in 2011.

There are several main reasons for the errors. The most common is the drop-down menus in the electronic versions. This can easily lead to human error when the doctor selects the wrong operation or medication dosage. Lost information is another common issue. Doctors who are not properly trained to use the electronic system often put text in the wrong boxes and this often ends up in the text being lost or unable to be seen by other doctors.

Also, computers are not infallible. They sometimes get software bugs that can cause odd actions to occur. For example, data could accidentally get erased or transferred to another patient’s chart. This can lead to serious medical issues such as a misdiagnosis, injury or even a wrongful death. Transmission errors are also common. When the hospital sends patient information to a pharmacy or other doctor, data can get lost in the process. In addition, pharmacies or other medical offices looking to access patient information may not be allowed access and this can cause the wrong medications or dosages to be prescribed.

There are nearly 100,000 cases of medical malpractice in the United States each year. Those who are injured by a doctor’s negligence should seek the legal assistance of a medical malpractice lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. Medical malpractice lawsuits are difficult to win alone, especially in Florida, where the laws are changing to protect doctors.

SourceDaily Tech, “Hospital Mistakes Due to Digital Records Errors are on the Rise” Jason Mick, Jul. 08, 2013