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What's the problem with electronic health records?

In most medical offices, electronic health records have taken the place of handwritten records. This has been lauded as one of the best tools to help physicians, because the electronic records can be shared among different facilities through an electronic health record database. Unfortunately, EHRs can also be a source of medical liability.

In a national medical liability insurance review, malpractice claim data showed that 64 percent of medical malpractice claims related to EHRs were a result of user errors, such as in putting the wrong information about a patient, while 42 percent were a result of system errors. If you're given an incorrect medication or not treated appropriately because of a failure in the EHR system, you could join many others who have filed a lawsuit over poor care.

One of the problems with an EHR system is that it needs to be able to be accessed from any medical facility in order to share the information. For example, a primary care physician might not be able to access information about a recent emergency visit, specialist report or other needed medical information due to interoperability issues. That exposes patients to harm, since information is not shared between hospitals, specialists, laboratories or other medical facilities regularly due to varied systems and record-keeping styles.

For now, to make up for the lack of interoperability, patients should share all medical information directly with their primary care provider. Patients can ask a hospital or secondary provider to send test results or visit information directly to a primary care provider, so all of the patient's information is located in one facility. Taking this step can help you get the care you need by keeping your doctor informed about changes in your health.

Source: AAP News & Journals, "Lessons learned from EHR-related medical malpractice cases," Richard L. Oken, M.D. FAAP, accessed Oct. 25, 2016

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