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Electronic records and medical errors

Written by Ankin Law Office

Many hospitals, clinics and medical offices in the Chicago area have been transitioning to a completely digital system for all of their patients’ health records. With federal law demanding that doctors and hospitals make the switch by 2015, many have already taken the opportunity and the offered incentives and completed the transition. With the new setup, however, many patients and healthcare workers are raising concerns they have over the potential errors that these new electronic records often cause, which in turn lead to serious consequences for patients.

Easy errors are likely

The ease with which doctors and nurses can make mistakes with electronic medical records has become alarming to many within the healthcare system. Nurses are particularly aware of the dangers and have begun speaking up about the high likelihood for mistakes. With a simple click of a button, patients can undergo unnecessary surgeries, receive improper medications, or fail to receive treatment because their intended treatment was improperly documented in another patient’s file. Each of these errors could easily result in the death of a patient.

Prescription errors more likely

Some opponents to electronic medical records point to prescription mistakes as one of the most obvious ways that the technology can lead to patient harm. Bloomberg reports that the nature of the computer programs used to manage the health records are the most suspect in these cases. Drugs and dosages are often chosen from drop-down menus, making it very easy for healthcare workers to accidentally choose the wrong prescription drug or the wrong dose of the right drug. In some cases, computer programs have ordered medications for patients without being prompted to do so by medical personnel.

Instances of real harm

The potential for harm is real when medical records are not properly maintained, and these medical errors can be fatal. An elderly Pennsylvania woman recently died after she failed to receive her proper medication while being treated in the hospital. The woman’s son, who is a doctor, took her to the hospital to be treated for stroke. While there, he saw that her medications were correctly listed on her electronic chart. However, a few days later when her regularly contained heart condition began to flare up, he checked again and the prescription drug used to maintain her heartbeat was no longer on her chart. The woman suffered clotting, hemorrhaging and needed emergency brain surgery. She died a short time later.

Patients who have been injured due to the mistakes of medical personnel using electronic records can find relief with the help of a Chicago medical malpractice attorney.  They can help patients recover from their actual injuries as well as the financial injuries that often accompany medical malpractice claims.

Categories: Medical Malpractice