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Are electronic medical records really safer? Part II

Earlier in the week we talked specifically about the risk that electronic records could pose to patients, especially when hospitals or medical providers have some kind of hybrid system in place between electronic and paper reocrds. This is such a big concern because of the federal government’s push to get more health care providers to use electronic records, but what if hospitals adopt faulty or shoddy systems?

Ultimately, it will be a hospital’s responsibility to adopt an electronic record-keeping system that allow physicians to successfully and safely treat patients. If a hospital chooses a system that is somehow subpar, it would be negligent if it did not find work-arounds that made up for the system’s deficiencies.

Unfortunately, it seems that some of these systems are clunky or are deficient in some way. Though many doctors say they do not want to go back to paper records, they do want better computer systems.

Part of the problem may be due to the fact that electronic record-keeping systems are not really regulated. Actually, they are regulated, but by the industry itself, not by the federal government and not by consumer advocates. As you can imagine, industry regulators have recommended that the federal government continue to be relatively hands-off.

Though a product may be difficult to use, if hospitals cannot figure out how to efficiently use their new electronic records systems, it is they that are negligent, not the companies producing the systems. And, if their negligence causes a patient injury, it will be the hospital facing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: Boston Globe, “Hazards tied to medical records rush,” Christopher Rowland, July 20, 2014

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