Administrative change is not easy in any profession, as it is common to get particularly accustomed to a certain way of filing paperwork, creating records, and similar tasks. That is certainly true in the medical context, as creating, maintaining, and transferring proper medical records is a vital component of ensuring that patients receive the care they need when they need it. Considering the familiarity with which many have likely become with the old system, it is no surprise that some are concerned about the potential effect of the widespread push to change to electronic health records.
For example, Med News Today recently published a story on the concerns of many medical professionals and others involved in the industry regarding the potential for an increase in medical malpractice lawsuits with the transition to electronic records. The concerns are mostly centered on the fact that the transition is being pushed quickly. The federal government is requiring physicians to shift to the new system as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (commonly known as “the stimulus”). One aspect of the bill, referred to as the “Meaningful Use’ requirement means that the electronic records must be implemented in large part by 2012.
Some caregivers have expressed worry at that deadline, and there are concerns that this may lead to more medical errors being made by involved medical professionals. Some physicians are worried that the electronic health record vendors may be making fateful systematic and design flaws in their rush to have everything operational by that deadline. They worry that much of the fine-tuning necessary to ensure that mistakes aren’t made will not be conducted before patient care is exposed to the system. These electronic systems are meant to capture all aspects of patient data-if that data is incorrect, it is easy to see how troubling mistakes might be made.
Physicians and electronic health record vendors are already discussing the potential legal liability as a result of record problems. As is often the case in these situations, a variety of different individuals and entities may play a role in electronic health record related negligence. For example, the article explains how many clinical laboratories and pathology group practices are also evaluating their protocols, because it will be their test results which will likely be included in the patients’ electronic records. Problems with those tests results can have disastrous consequences, and it is imperative that all those involved in each stage of those records not make preventable errors.
Each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm is committed to helping all those hurt by negligent medical care. There is simply no excuse for a patient’s health being compromised because medical records were not maintained properly-whether they are paper records or electronic records. All local patients are always advised to play a proactive role in their care, ensuring that record-keeping errors are not made. Of course, in many instances it is simply impossible for patients to have known about some erroneous medical decision or delay. In those cases, an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed by the victims to hold their wrongdoer accountable.
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