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Hospitals struggle with electronic medical records sharing

Written by Ankin Law Office

When Illinois residents seek treatment at a hospital or other facility, they often believe that the technology that is being utilized is improving their safety and health. The reality, however, is that hospitals and doctors are often unable to use this technology to its full potential, particularly relating to the use of electronic health records. According to The Economic Times, the quick implementation of many electronic patient records systems has led to serious problems getting the various systems to communicate. An Illinois medical malpractice attorney should know the devastating effect this could have on patient care.

Law-spurred implementation

With the passing of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Barak Obama implemented a required transition from the use of paper medical records to a completely electronic system. Per the law, public and private medical professionals of all backgrounds were to have begun using these programs in “meaningful” ways by January 1, 2015. Those who failed to comply and prove their meaningful use of these systems will face a one percent reduction in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements.

This has caused a significant increase in electronic medical records use in the industry with rates growing from just 48.3 percent in 2009 to 80 percent in 2014. To meet the 2015 deadline, many systems sacrificed interconnectedness. Some programs were designed to limit the free transfer of information while others charge fees for every transfer outside the system. Each of these creates a wall that increases the likelihood that patients’ information will not be available to their healthcare providers when they need it.

How this affects patients

While the current state of medical records sharing remains problematic, some patients are able to overcome the issue by properly reporting their medical history and recent test results. However, for the vast majority of patients this simply is not feasible. This often results in patients receiving multiple costly diagnostic tests that they do not need and may cause harm in other ways.

In some cases the outcome can be deadly. Elderly patients, minors and those who are seeking emergency medical care may not be able to accurately state all of the medications they take on a daily basis. In an emergency situation, a lack of shared information may lead to physicians prescribing drugs with potentially fatal interactions to their patients’ regular medications. Having a unified system lessens the likelihood that a patient will receive care that they do not need or fall victim to medical mistakes that could have been otherwise prevented.

Those who have been injured due complications with an electronic medical records system should contact an Illinois medical malpractice attorney. With attorneys’ help patients or their families may be able to recover the compensation that they need in order to receive treatment, care for any loved ones left behind, or to simply heal and regain their lives.

Categories: Medical Malpractice