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

How to Improve EMRs in Regard to Medical Malpractice Defense

By Whitman Johnson to EMR/EHR


In this episode, Healthcare Matters interviews ALL MD attorney Whit Johnson on how he would consult an EMR company on how to improve their product in relation to defending a medical malpractice claim.

Johnson is a shareholder at CURRIE, JOHNSON, GRIFFIN & MEYERS P.A. He practices law in Mississippi, specializing in trial work, with a focus on the defense of physicians, hospitals and other health care providers from claims of medical negligence. Johnson was recognized in 2011 as “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in the field of medical malpractice law.

Johnson 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 2 of 5

Interview recorded June 30, 2015


Mike Matray: Hi I’m Mike Matray, your host of Healthcare Matters where the medical and legal communities come together to discuss health care matters. Today’s guest is Whit Johnson. Whit is a share holder with Currie Johnson Griffin & Myers in Jackson, Mississippi. Welcome to the program Whit.

Whit Johnson: Thanks glad to be here.

Mike: A recent Rand Corp American Medical Society Study called for a complete design overhaul of electronic medical records to improve usability. If you had the opportunity to advice an EMR company on a redesign of its products, what changes would most benefit the defensibility of a medical liability claim?

Whit: You know the primary thing I think most defence lawyers would tell you is that we need to do away with the templates that are so ubiquitous now. The interesting thing is that doctors have always used templates. Even before EMR, you can take a surgeon’s op report from five similar surgeries, and they’ll be almost identical with just minor changes. So they were using templates in their mind even if they weren’t created. And I don’t know if we’ll ever get full away from the templates, but I think the thing that bothers me more than that are the drop down boxes. So often the drop down boxes don’t include what they need to include. There really needs to be one for other, and the doctors need to pay attention, and use that other box as often as it is applicable. I would also like to see a situation where you aren’t required to click on every box. You know on the history and physical, the physical exam a lot of times these doctors have to click on every separate system without regard to whether it has anything to do with that particular patient’s issues that they’re seeing the doctor for. So I’d like to see a situation where the only thing that a doctor clicks are the pertinent negatives.

And then finally, one of the things that I would love to see happen, I would love to see a situation in which the patient is part of the electronic medical work. I know that sounds funny, but I’d love to see a situation when the patient goes in to the doctor’s office, you sit down at a computer, and they fill out things. They type in what their chief complaint was, they type in the medicines they’re on, they type in if they have anything else going on. And then that goes into the chart, and if you’re going to set it up electronically, then get them to fill out every time they come in, why they’re there, what’s going on with them, do they have any other problems, what other doctors they’re seeing. And then scan into the EMR, and that way when I’m defending a case, I’ve got the patient’s own words describing the history.