Could a typo result in medical negligence?

Electronic medical records, or EMRs, were designed to save doctors time. But is clicking through various fields on a computer screen really faster than making a handwritten note?  

Notably, federal regulations require a doctor to enter their own data into an EMR. That requirement, in turn, may create additional administrative work and detract from a doctor’s time that could otherwise be spent with patients. According to one article, some physicians may be getting around this obstacle by taking shortcuts, perhaps by duplicating data, entering data in an untimely manner, or perhaps making incomplete entries.

Could the copying and pasting of data with a mouse click result in medical negligence? Anyone who has used a computer knows that typos seem almost inevitable without a spell checker. Depending on the EMR platform set up by a particular vendor, some physicians may find that electronic data entry creates more trouble than the old fashioned alternative of handwritten patient records.

Unfortunately, there’s a real life example of an injury allegedly caused by an EMR. The patient had a kidney stone, as well as a possible kidney infection from elevated creatinine levels. His attending physicians apparently did not notice the kidney stone entry in his EMR and prescribed an antibiotic that is safe for several forms of kidney infection, but not for patients with a kidney stone. When the patient sued for medical malpractice, the court observed that there was numerous data repeated in the 3,000 pages of the patient’s EMR. Consequently, the court ruled that the physicians could not use the EMR as evidence that they had properly cared for the patient. 

Our law firm focuses on various forms of personal injury lawsuits caused by the negligence of others, including medical malpractice. Check out our firm’s website to learn more about the types of evidence that can be persuasive in this type of litigation. 

Source: Computer World, “Lawyers smell blood in electronic medical records,” Lucas Mearian, April 13, 2015