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Computerized records can cause medical errors

Computerized records can cause medical errors

Your doctor likely keeps your medical records in a computerized system. These electronic programs are a departure from the past when your medical information was hand written and kept in a paper file folder. Many experts agree that the current trend to digitalize medicine is desirable. Electronic records are supposed to minimize mistakes and help coordinate a patient’s care across various specialties. However, there are critics of computerized medical records who warn that the new systems can cause widespread errors leading to medical malpractice.

Some people are concerned over the quality of these systems because there is no government or industry regulations in place to monitor them. As a result some medical record keeping systems have been proven to be faulty. Reports indicate that one flawed software program had actually put patients at risk because patients’ charts were updated with the wrong doctor’s orders. . Another medical computer program generated thousands of improper prescriptions. There is even a report of a program that made an error in presenting a surgical image, which resulted in the surgeon making a mistake; the doctor performed wrong-site surgery on the patient.

In addition to software glitches, patients have been harmed due to staff that incorrectly used medical computer systems. Patients have suffered from data entry errors, including one 2010 case where a baby died. Other patients have waited unnecessarily for care when test results were not timely recorded in the computer program.

When you visit a medical provider, be aware that your doctor’s medical electronic record system is not foolproof. If you suspect that your health has been harmed by a data entry mistake, doctor error, or computer software problem, you may want to . consult a legal professional to discuss your rights and remedies.

Source: Kaiser Health News, “Health technology’s ‘essential critic’ warns of medical mistakes,” Jay Hancock, Feb. 18, 2013