Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Electronic records and medical errors

The implementing of medical records being filed electronically has not been proven to be a foolproof system. There have been at least 3,000 mix-ups due to the electronic records that have led to harm of patients in Pennsylvania alone.

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority concerning these records has actually grown in recent years. This may be in part because the system is being used more each year, but there has also likely been an underreporting of medical errors due to electronic medical records as well because the research regarding injuries caused was based upon voluntary disclosure.

It is clear that when data is missing from records, mistakes will be made. For example, medications may only have been prescribed because a doctor was unaware from the records that the patient was already taking another incompatible medication.

Though no major incidents have yet been reported regarding electronic record mix-ups, the sheer number of mistakes remains a concern. Also, with the large number of errors that are occurring, sooner or later one of these mistakes will turn out to be traumatic. As one doctor pointed out, there is an urgent need to address this sort of problem because the potential for error remains so great.

Many beneficial changes have come about in the medical system due to lawsuits filed against hospitals and doctors regarding negligent care. Proving medical malpractice, however, is often difficult and requires an attorney extremely familiar with the way doctors and hospitals practice medicine.

We cannot afford for our medical providers to prescribe medicines or perform procedures without complete medical information.

Source: American Medical News, "EHR-related errors soar but few harm patients," by Kevin B. O'Reilly, Jan. 14, 2013

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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