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While it’s certainly not uncommon to see your physician taking notes or reading from a paper chart, it’s also becoming increasingly common to see them performing these very same tasks via a laptop or tablet computer.
Indeed, thanks to roughly $30 billion in government incentives, both physicians and hospitals have implemented electronic health records’ (EHRs) programs. Here, the rationale is that by streamlining the collection and sharing of medical information, both medical professionals and hospitals can reduce overhead and, more significantly, improve the overall quality of care.
Is this growing push for EHRs a good thing?
While the idea of EHRs may sound good in theory, experts indicate these systems are not without their drawbacks. Indeed, EHRs can result in everything from the possibility of data lock to the possibility of patient information simply being entered incorrectly.
What is data lock?
Data lock is a phenomenon in which the EHR system used by one provider or hospital is unable to communicate with the EHR system used by another provider or hospital, such that a physician may be lacking otherwise vital information when they finally meet with a patient. As you can imagine, this is a potentially disastrous scenario.
Is this issue really that pressing?
When you consider statistics show as many as 400,000 people here in the U.S. lose their lives as a result of medical mistakes every year, and at least 80,000 of these fatalities can be attributed to physicians lacking the necessary information, the issue of incompatible or incorrect EHRs is incredibly pressing.
Is there anything patients can do to protect themselves?
Yes. Experts indicate that patients can make a conscious effort to assume control of their EHRs, something we’ll examine further in our next post.
If you or a loved one have been victimized by what you believe to be medical malpractice, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can examine what happened and what steps can be taken.