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Randy Appleton
Randy Appleton
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New Study Reveals High Incidence of Errors on Electronic Health Records

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medical-recordsAccording to national data, more than 80 percent of all physicians and 90 percent of all hospitals use electronic health records (EHR) to keep track of patient history. These records are supposed to minimize the risk of mistakes on patients’ records, thereby keeping them safe. But a new study reveals that the number of EHR-related medical malpractice lawsuits are on the rise.

The Study

The study was conducted by the Doctor’s Company, which is a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. The study analyzed 66 HER-related malpractice claims that were filed between July 2014 and December 2016. In the new study, 58 percent of the claims were caused by user factors. Examples of these errors include data entry errors, copying and pasting progress notes, and alert fatigue.

Another 50 percent of claims were caused by system failures, such as issues with the design or technology used or a lack of integration of the EHR systems in the hospital.

The majority of events took place in the patient’s room, compared with other events that happened in emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, ambulatory/day surgery centers, and labor and delivery.

When these results were compared with an earlier study which used EHR-related claims filed between 2007 and June 2014, the areas of medicine which showed an increase in claims were emergency medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and orthopedics.

Some of the other key findings of the study include:

  • The number of claims filed between 2007 to 2010 was two. The number of cases between July 2014 to December 2016 was 66.
  • The most common claims were diagnosis-related, which increased 32 percent. The earlier study’s diagnosis-related claims were 27 percent.

The study also highlighted some of the cases to show how dangerous these errors can be. In one case, the hospital patient was suffering from weakness of his extremities caused by cervical vascular malformation. For four days in a row, the attending physician entered identical progress notes on the patient’s chart, noting no change in the patient’s condition. This despite documentation made by nurses and physical therapists of the patient’s worsening neurological condition. On the fifth day, a physical therapist spoke with the physician about the patient’s deteriorating motor strength. The physician ordered a new neurosurgical consult, but he again entered the same progress notes. The patient did undergo surgery, but it was too late. The result was the patient is now a quadriplegic. During the malpractice lawsuit, experts testified that the physician’s notes were all identical because he had copied and pasted each entry, instead of entering new notes about the patient’s deteriorating condition.

Contact a Norfolk Malpractice Attorney

If you or a family member were injured as a result of a medical error, contact a Virginia medical malpractice attorney to find out what your legal options may be against those responsible for the injuries.