An internet television program that explores the intersection of medicine and the law.

How Small Errors on an EMR can have Seriously Affect the Outcome of a Medical Malpractice Case

By John Degnan to EMR/EHR


In this episode, Healthcare Matters interviews ALL MD attorney John Degnan on how even small errors in maintaining an electronic medical records can have a large impact n the defensibility of a medical malpractice claim.

Degnan is a shareholder at BRIGGS & MORGAN. He practices law in Minnesota, representing clients in business disputes, as well as members of the legal and medical communities in professional matters.

Degnan is a charter member of the Association of Liability Lawyers in Medical Defense (ALL MD), a nationwide organization that connects healthcare providers with attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice defense.

Question 5 of 5

Interview was recorded September 4, 2015


Mike Matray: Hi, and welcome to Healthcare Matters where the medical and legal communities come together to discuss healthcare matters. Today’s guest is John Degnan.

Welcome to Healthcare Matters, John.

John Degnan: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

Mike: In your defense of medical liability claims, what have been the most common errors or liabilities in a physician’s use of electronic medical records, and how do you advise your physician clients to avoid these specific errors and liabilities in the future?

John: Well, the medical records that are electronic in nature are very user-friendly in many ways once a provider gets to use them. And they’re more efficient. However, with all the dropdowns and checklists, one has to be careful to make sure that it’s absolutely accurate that it captures the situation with that particular patient at that time. And if none of the dropdowns exactly portray what the physician is seeing, then you pick the best one. But also go on to do whatever necessary in terms of free-texting to be sure that it captures exactly what the situation is.

The other new issue that’s starting to arise is the way that we communicate now is so often not only by email but by text. And even some physicians are doing this with the patients. Text should be avoided, obviously, because no one can maintain the record of that. And emails are fine as long as they’re within the system. Like, My Chart is one of the common ones around in our region. That allows for communicating very basically with an email with your physician but it’s captured within the system so that it’s preserved. What one wants to avoid is not to email back and forth with Gmail because there’s no way to really maintain a complete record of the communications with the patients.