The medical industry had high hopes for switching over from written charts to electronic charts once computers became the most desirable and safest way to store data. Written medical charts created all kinds of issues.
They made it difficult for one doctor to share information quickly with another. It was also possible that the doctor’s handwriting was so scrawled as to be illegible to anyone else and sometimes even the same doctor at a later time. Doctors would often have to just glance over pages of charts instead of thoroughly reviewing them for the most critical information.
Digital charts make it easier to track symptoms, remove the complication of terrible handwriting and potentially facilitate faster and more secure sharing of medical data. Unfortunately, they can also set patients up for more risk of a failed diagnosis in some cases.
Digital charts mean that doctors look at computers instead of at patients
In order to keep on top of their administrative and charting responsibilities, doctors have historically had to stay late at the office to fill out information about individual patients. With digital record-keeping came the demand for almost instantaneous data entry.
Doctors now have to make immediate notes of symptoms and other issues during an appointment. That means that the doctor will spend their time with a patient looking at a screen instead of at the patient. The focus on getting information into the computer can mean that the doctor isn’t fully listening to the patients and that they fail to hear important information. Trying to get everything typed out quickly can mean that a doctor doesn’t have all the information they need to reach an accurate diagnosis.
Misdiagnosis can cause all kinds of problems for a patient
When a doctor doesn’t reach the right diagnosis, it is the patient who suffers. The doctor may prescribe them medication or order procedures that turn out to be unnecessary or even harmful.
The good news is that digital records can actually help patients in many situations. They can show that a doctor failed to notice signs in an easy-to-follow record of events. If you believe that your prognosis or the health of a loved one became compromised due to a wrong or failed diagnosis, you may need to consider bringing a medical malpractice claim against the physician involved.