Archive June 2016 XVII, No. 6

Medical Malpractice: Don't Get Tripped Up With These EHR Errors

A simple typo could still put you at risk of a negligence lawsuit.

information into an EHR CAREFUL CONSIDERATION If you copy and paste information into the EHR or the software autopopulates certain fields, be sure to review the information for accuracy.

Electronic health records give caregivers quick and easy access to a patient's medical history, but the improper use of EHRs — whether it's intentionally falsifying records or making a simple typo — can lead to critical errors in patient care that could cause serious harm to patients and expose healthcare providers to medical liability.

The impact of improper EHR use on patient care can be devastating. Patients have been given incorrect doses, undergone unnecessary surgeries, been deprived of necessary care, and suffered long-term harm or death due to incorrect or missing information displayed on their EHRs. And often when this happens, patients or their families seek restitution by pursing legal action.

Common mistakes
Attempts by doctors to enter incorrect information to try to hide mistakes are well documented, but medical malpractice claims have also been the result of such minor and unintended data-entry mistakes as a typo or glitch in the software. Some of the most common EHR and documentation errors to watch for include:

  • Data-entry mistakes, such as unintended typos or inadvertent deletions.
  • Copy-and paste-errors, such as cutting and pasting from one EHR to another, or copying and pasting multiple times in the same EHR.
  • Use of templates without subsequently verifying that the entered data is accurate. In other words, the software auto-populates information into the EHR and nobody confirms that it fairly describes the surgery.
  • Data-entry errors by scribes who are not property trained to input data into the EHR.
  • Failure of physician to carefully review the EHR.
  • Errors caused by software updates.
  • Errors caused by incompatibility between different EHR systems.
  • Failures of the EHR software that results in loss of data that was not otherwise saved or backed up.
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