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Electronic Medical Records Mistakes Are Medical Malpractice and Require You Check Your Test Results

Posted by James D. Campbell | May 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

Our modern world of technology has its good points and bad.  Electronic medical records came with the promise of reduced errors, including increased communication among health care providers, reduction in medication errors, and better coordination of testing and services. This brave new world promised that health care providers would have unfettered access to your health history to improve your care and prevent medical malpractice.

In large part, Electronic medical records have caused extensive frustration among health care providers and patients.  Doctors and nurses find themselves now clicking boxes instead of providing patient care.  Patients find their doctors more concerned about the screen in front of them then they are the patient.  The reality is these systems were created by computer people with little health care experience, and the health care workers that have to use them find them maddening. 

A new study by the Joint Commission, the entity that accredits hospitals, highlights that this transition is very rocky.  The report includes a very powerful video demonstrating these errors.   It reports many medical errors occurring because of electronic medical records.  These errors include serious medication errors, getting the right patients the right tests on time, and in communication important information.   The report stated:

Technology-related adverse events also happen when health care providers and leaders do not carefully consider the impact technology can have on care processes, workflow and safety. “You have to understand what the worker is going through – whether that worker is a nurse, a doctor, a pharmacist or whoever is using the technology. The science of the interplay between technology and humans or ‘human factors' is important and often gets short shrift,” says Ronald A. Paulus, M.D., chief technology and innovation officer, Geisinger Health System.

It is important to understand that these mistakes are medical malpractice and can cause serious injury or death.  When a doctor does not know his patient has a serious, untreated infection, that patient suffers serious harm or death from not getting the antibiotics she needs.  Similarly, when a study showing cancer is not properly communicated, the patient suffers immeasurable harm.   Unfortunately, we have been seeing too many of these types of medical malpractice cases coming right out of the Tucson and Southern Arizona area.  

What is a patient to do to try to prevent these types of mistakes from causing harm?  One important step is to write down every test that is performed on you, and then demand to see the results of each test.  If you have a CT scan, ask to see the report.  If you have labs drawn, ask to see the report.  If you have any test performed on you, demand to see the report.  This is your right, as they are your records. Then, be persistent and talk with your doctor about the results of the test.  If there is something in the results you don't understand, make sure you get the answer.  Forcing your doctors to review your records will reduce mistakes. Trust me, using this method, I recently caught an important medical error involving my own care.   Using this powerful tool can help you make sure you get the care you need.

About the Author

James D. Campbell

Jim Campbell is an experienced medical malpractice trial lawyer. Jim learned the craft of medical malpractice litigation law representing physicians and hospitals throughout the State of Arizona. He successfully tried many lawsuits on behalf of physicians and hospitals, even when the odds were overwhelmingly against his client. Now, Jim uses his skill and experience representing patients. His defense experience gives him an advantage in anticipating the tactics that physicians and their lawyers will use. He is able to proactively engineer his client's case to successfully meet those strategies.


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