Can Medical Negligence Be Prevented By Better Record-Keeping?

Many industries share an increased reliance on technology in their daily activities. From scheduling programs to digital record-keeping, health care professionals rely on computer-aided organization to stay focused on patient care and minimizing stress. But, are these steps enough to ensure proper care?

Can Electronic Health Records Prevent Harm To Patients?

Electronic health records (EHR) systems were developed to improve communication, record-keeping and patient safety. These enhancements were put in place to reduce errors or avoid them altogether. While more efficient communication can diminish some instances of medical negligence, patients still face numerous risks when visiting an emergency room, urgent care facility or hospital.

A study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) was designed to examine the impact of electronic health records (EHR) on patients. There were three categories of EHR.

  • Fully electronic, in which everything from physician notes to provider orders are electronically generated.
  • Partially electronic, in which some record keeping and other components were electronically generated.
  • Non-electronic, in which no medical components were present in electronic form.

In the study, data from 1,351 hospitals was captured.

Were The Results Conclusive?

There were 347,281 exposures to adverse events recorded in the study. Of these exposures, 7,820 adverse events actually took place. This results in 2.25 percent of at risk patients suffering an adverse event.

"Thirteen percent of the patients received care that was captured by a fully electronic EHR. While these patients had lower odds of any adverse event, this association varied by medical condition and type of adverse event," reads the report summary.

These results, while encouraging, do not erase the thousands of occurrences of medical negligence experienced every year. Simple things from sloppy handwriting to transcription errors to typos, patients are at risk for receiving an incorrect diagnosis or an improper medication dosage. If you or a loved one has experienced medical malpractice related to flawed Electronic Health Records or health information technology in general, it is wise to seek the counsel of a skilled attorney.

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