Electronic medical records are just one of the latest technological advancements to influence patient care and malpractice liability. By allowing doctors to use computers to track patient information, rather than relying on paper files and handwritten records, doctors are able to spot problems more quickly and readily. Moreover, electronic medical records make it easier for doctors to communicate with patients and other physicians by streamlining the collection of medical information.
According to some experts, research shows that electronic health records “improve quality and safety and, as a result, prevent adverse events and reduce the risk of malpractice claims.”
Not only do electronic medical records impact patient care, but they also impact medical malpractice lawsuits in a number of ways, including:
- Electronic medical records provide more detailed patient information than what is typically required in traditional paper records. This additional layer of information can make it easier to determine negligent doctors so that they can be held accountable. Moreover, the additional information can make the discovery process more productive.
- Electronic medical records increase the amount of data and documentation that is available. Because the documentation in electronic medical records is often more easy to read, decipher, and understand, electronic medical records are more likely to yield information that will be helpful to the case.
- Technology opens up new and novel legal issues regarding medical malpractice. Electronic medical records could create legal issues in medical malpractice lawsuits about what actually constitutes the medical file. When traditional paper records are involved, the medical file is a folder consisting of physician’s notes and reports on the patients. When a doctor uses electronic medical files, on the other hand, he or she will look to a series of screenshots to assess the patient’s condition. Accordingly, there is some debate about what documents should be produced during discovery as part of the medical file. In most cases, the defendant will produce a printed medical report, which is a summary of what the medical files contains, but does not resemble the screenshots that the doctor used. Since electronic medical records are constantly being upgraded, the screenshots at the time of the litigation may not resemble the screenshots that the doctor saw at the time of treatment, which can create complex legal issues.
- Overreliance on electronic records can create a false sense of security. Although electronic medical records enhance patient safety in many cases, in some cases, it can provide a false sense of security such that doctors will overlook simple discrepancies. As a result, minor medical and documentation mistakes can turn into major medical errors.
Contact a Skilled Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Ankin Law Office focus on representing clients in medical malpractice lawsuits. As such, we continue to monitor the ways that electronic medical records impact medical malpractice lawsuits. If you were the victim of medical error or would like more information about electronic medical records, contact our office at (312) 600-0000 to schedule your free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Illinois medical malpractice lawyers.