EHR and Malpractice Risk

Without a doubt, EHR is a wonderful thing. The benefits an EHR system can bring to a clinic or hospital, and to patients themselves, are incredibly profound.

However, EHR does pose some serious risks for malpractice. Some of these risks are risks that clinics grapple with today. Others are a direct result of how clinics select and deploy their EHR system.

It’s vitally important hospitals and clinics know about and understand these risks, so they can work with their EHR vendor to control them.

Here are some common areas that can become problematic with EHR systems.

1. EHR Customizations

Often, EHR systems require customizations to ensure the system works according to your practice’s specific needs. However, these customizations can inadvertently open up loopholes that put patient safety and privacy at risk.

For instance, imagine one of your chronic patients requires periodic visits for her health. However, your customized clinical standards has trouble calculating when that patient needs to return to your clinic every month.

If a suit is brought against your clinic, you might be held accountable for not providing the high standard of care you thought you were giving.

2. Conversion of Data

Once your clinic transitions to an EHR system, you’re going to have to go through a preloading process to get patient files into a digital format. This data conversion can open up a host of problems and risks if it’s not done properly.

For instance, imagine a patient had cataract surgery two years ago. During the conversion process, this fact isn’t entered into the new system. So, EHR can’t tell your team that this patient needs a yearly checkup.

During the preload process, you must ensure that all relevant information is entered for every single patient. If a claim is filed, you must be able to prove that the lack of a paper chart had no adverse effect on patient care.

3. Product Design

When your clinic runs on a paper file system, it’s easy for doctors and RNs to jot down notes and test results to amend patient records. It’s written down, signed, and dated for everyone to see.

However, EHR is more complicated.

For instance, an RN might make an amendment to a patient file. This amendment is entered at the bottom of the original encounter note. However, this note could show up as a brand new note, with a different encounter date. Or, it might not be linked with the original encounter at all.

Depending on the design of your EHR, it might be difficult for doctors and nurses to know where to look for the most current patient information, or important follow-up information. If a suit is filed against your clinic, this could be hard to defend.

Final Word

As you can see, EHR can open up a whole host of problems that many doctors, clinics and hospitals simply don’t think about when they’re selecting and/or customizing an EHR system. It’s vitally important you look carefully at each element in your system to ensure that, should a claim be filed against your practice, there is no lapse in patient safety or privacy.




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