More on EMRs/EHRs & Medical Liability Coverage

newborn baby checked by doctorWhile we have written about electronic medical records (EMRs) (or electronic healthcare records (EHRs) as some like to say) quite a bit here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com, there continues to be more and more to write about –especially within the realm of liability and liability coverage.

In the past, we have written extensively about data breaches as they relate to liability and liability coverage. But, today we’d like to focus on how the EMR is playing a new role in liability cases and what a physician should be aware of, should they suspect a case on the horizon. This topic, along with much more, was recently addressed in a terrific AMedNews.com article, entitled, “Legal risks of going paperless.”

There were three excellent points raised in the article that we have not talked about yet on this blog.

1. Modification allegations. In short, physicians should be extremely cautious about modifying electronic medical records once a liability case is brought –no matter how innocent the change may seem. It will only raise red flags for the plaintiffs.

2. Login and password use. Physicians should never give their login and password to anyone to use. Records will indicate the physician made a change to the EMR when he or she did not. It can make matters very confusing and hard to prove who did what.

3. E-discovery demands. In the past, legal requests only included paper records, but attorneys are now requesting every accessible electronic record. This can include films, labs, phone records, and of course, e-mail. And, it can possibly include screen shots from the physician’s computer –see the article for information on the precedent-setting case. This creates a major burden and expense for physicians, their staff and their liability insurance team. Thus, it seems that the already long and exhausting process of discovery in a liability case is becoming even longer and more exhausting.

Clearly the adoption of EMRs has been a mixed-bag of risks and benefits. While the intent of EMRs was to help improve health care, there is not doubt that it has created new liabilities. Thus, we encourage all physicians to proceed with caution and to be familiar with their liability policy.

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