The Effect of Electronic Medical Records on Medical Malpractice

How has the use of electronic medical records reduced the number of medical malpractice lawsuits?

Screenshot of electronic medical software demo.

Screenshot of electronic medical software demo.

Studies have revealed that the quality and safety of information has been enhanced with the use of electronic medical records. These records prevent misunderstandings and diminish the number of potential medical malpractice claims.

Facilitating Patient Records

The use of electronic medical records is among the latest innovations in technology that has had a positive impact on medical care. The use of computers, instead of paper records and handwritten notes in monitoring patient information, allows doctors to promptly and quickly take note of issues affecting the patient. In addition, communication between the patient and doctor is facilitated through the use of electronic medical records. It also increases the efficiency of obtaining medical information.

Potential Medical Malpractice Issues

Aside from making patient care easier, the use of electronic medical records also has had an effect on medical malpractice lawsuits through the following ways.

  • Information about the patient on electronic medical records is more detailed compared to conventional paper records. The additional details offered through electronic medical records make it effortless to check on negligent doctors who can be held responsible for their actions. Furthermore, the extra details make the process of discovery faster and easier.
  • The volume of information and documentation available has increased with the use of electronic medical records. Electronic medical records provide more practical information that can be utilized in medical malpractice cases since the stored information is easier to access, interpret, and understand.
  • A number of new legal issues associated with medical malpractice cases have emerged. One legal issue associated with these cases is deciding what makes up a medical record. A medical file is typically a folder made up of the notes of the doctor and a patient report recorded on a conventional paper document. In contrast, whenever an electronic medical record is used by a doctor, a number of screenshots will be used by the doctor in assessing the condition of a patient. As a result, discussions are made on which document should be provided during the discovery portion of the case.

Conventional Paper Documents Versus Screenshots

More often than not, a printed medical report will be produced by the defendant. This report summarizes the content of the medical files. However, it will not be similar to the screenshots that were taken by the doctor. The screenshots taken by the doctor during the litigation period may be different from the screenshots used during the treatment period due to the continuous upgrades in electronic medical records. This may result in some complicated legal issues.

Even though electronic medical records facilitate the safety of patients, there are some instances when a false sense of security will result from the use of these records, for example, a doctor may ignore inconsistencies in the medical records. Consequently, simple documentation and medical errors can still lead to major medical errors.

If you have become the victim of a medical care provider’s negligence, contact Zevan and Davidson Law Firm at (314) 588-7200.

Photo credit: John Norris via Flickr

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