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What is EHR-related medical malpractice?

The world is full of acronyms. So if you're not familiar with EHR, don't worry. It simply stands for electronic health records.

EHR s hailed as a way of improving health care by lowering costs, improving communication and reducing clerical errors. It hasn't always worked out that way, however, as EHR-related medical malpractice litigation shows.

A medical insurance company recently reviewed EHR-related malpractice cases and determined that 42 percent come from system errors and the remainder from user errors. System errors include such things as system design flaws, improper electronic data routing, technology failures and fragmented electronic records.

User errors can include factors such as copying and pasting of information, data entry error, lack of training on EHR and user fatigue.

There are also security failures that have resulted in incorrect or missing EHR data. Think of stolen or misplaced laptops and thumb drives, as well as hacking. All very real problems that can cause even greater problems for physicians, and most important, for patients.

An article on the American Academy of Pediatrics website cited an example of an EHR-related medical malpractice claim in which a toddler with fever and a rash was taken to his doctor. The little boy had recently been a country where tuberculosis is a problem.

The EHR stated that the patient had not been exposed, however. And that error was copied and pasted repeatedly as the boy was returned to the doctor's office for subsequent treatments.

Two weeks went by and the toddler was finally correctly diagnosed in an ER. By then, tuberculosis meningitis had caused permanent, severe cognition defects.

In these kinds of tragic events, the parents can do nothing to improve their child's health, but they can fight for compensation to provide long-term care and to provide incentive to doctors to be more careful.

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