EHRs Raise Physician Liability According to New White Paper

Physician and Chart Thanks to the federal government, Electronic health records (EHRs) are being used more and more with each passing day. No longer considered ahead of the curve, but the new standard of practice, EHRs are proving to add another layer of doctor liability to our already litigious times.

With the newly created market and demand for EHRs, it is thought that many EHR vendors rushed their products to market in order to capitalize on this boom in the industry. A recent white paper entitled, “Do EHRs Increase Liability?” discussed the potential impact of these less-than-perfect electronic systems now being implemented by physicians and institutions across the country. The paper estimates that there are several hundred companies that sell a unique EHR product and that there are about 500 EHR products that require certification by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information (ONCHI). However, certification by ONCHI does not address any sort of medico-legal issues that may be raised by the software.

Thus, the paper theorizes that faulty functioning of some of this EHR software, along with other types of errors in use, may temporarily drive up the cost of liability insurance. The types of errors that can occur vary greatly and the paper gives many excellent examples. Regarding human error, just transferring paper records into the new system has potential for major errors. Most often, paper records are scanned into the new system or are entered by hand via re-typing. Second, with the rush to implement EHRs, there is often a rush through training and physicians simply may not use the system properly. Finally, given that the records are now electronic, there is also now an electronic “paper trail” that can easily pinpoint errors –who made them and when, providing patients and their lawyers with excellent evidence in a physician liability case. For a discussion of some of the more complex errors that can occur with EHRs, see the paper.

If you are concerned about EHRs, the professional liability specialists at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com are happy to answer your questions. Contact us today and receive a free quote with no obligation.