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Electronic Health Records May Put Patients at Risk for Misdiagnosis

Technology and innovation have improved health care in leaps and bounds.  One new addition to medical offices is electronic health forms.  No longer does a doctor pull a paper folder off a shelf to consult his past hand written notes on a patient’s condition, instead he just types their name into a computer.  However this new technology can be dangerous if not monitored and used correctly.  You may wonder how electronic medical records could possibly be dangerous.  Well, it’s as simple as a typo.

Sometimes it’s the program itself.  Occasionally EHRs don't function properly owing to design flaws or bugs. For example, data a doctor enters into the opening screen may fail to populate the fields of other screens correctly, or authorized software upgrades may alter the presentation of historical data that they’ve entered. 

If doctors and nurses know about flaws in the system yet do not contact a vendor to correct them and this contributes to misdiagnosis or any other form of medical malpractice then, it could be argued, the doctor knowingly jeopardized his patients.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) specifically states that the healthcare provider is the covered entity responsible for maintaining the integrity of the patient's medical record.

To save time while entering patient information a doctor or nurse may simply copy and paste text into fields.  Incorrect or outdated patient information could be transferred from one record to another.  Case law establishes that physicians can be held liable for harm that could have been averted had they more carefully studied their patients' medical records.  For example, Short v. United States involved a patient whose doctor failed to diagnose his prostate cancer in time for it to be cured. The court held that under Vermont law, the physician violated the standard of care by failing to review the patient's past visit notes, which would have elucidated the nature of his problem."

As Virginia (VA) medical malpractice lawyers we are dedicated to educating and working with clients that have been harmed by medical mistakes and errors.  Our team of Virginia Beach & Norfolk medical malpractice attorneys had published two downloadable guides that are accessible by the general public.




Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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