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Accurate electronic health records important for patient safety

As many Houston area residents may have observed, the world of health records is moving into the digital world. Most doctors are now using electronic health records instead of hand recording. Although this can be more convenient, any errors can have severe consequences, including wrongful death, for patients.

Just 8 years ago less than 20% of doctors used electronic health records. By 2014, over 80% of doctors used electronic health records. Electronic health records offer a number of advantages to both patients and doctors. Doctors can have quick and easy access to a patient's health history, medications and lab results. This often makes patient records more accurate and can allow for better patient care.

However, an inaccurate electronic health record can be detrimental to a patient and mistakes are easy to make. There can be unintended typos and deletions. Or a drop down menu can be misinterpreted. Using templates to auto populate data can also cause errors. And sometimes scribes who are not properly trained on how to use electronic health records can make errors.

Patients have suffered from many injuries because of inaccurate EHRs. Patients have been given inaccurate medication doses, undergone unnecessary surgeries and not received proper care because of missing information. One doctor misinterpreted a woman's electronic health record that said "unknown/last five years" for a tetanus show to mean that she did not need a shot. The woman wound up dying of tetanus because she had actually never had a shot.

A person who believes they have suffered an unexpected injury due to an inaccurate electronic health record may want to speak with a legal professional skilled in medical malpractice. Compensation may be available for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages.

Source: mdnews.com, "Inaccurate EHRs can have severe consequences for patients and physicians", Cliff Robertson, April 28, 2016

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