Electronic Medical Record Breaches and Errors

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There is a lot of news lately about electronic medical records (EMRs) and how many hospitals, hospital systems, doctors, clinics, and other healthcare providers are using EMRs in providing patient health services. In fact, federal statistics show that 78 percent of office-based physicians used electronic medical records in 2014, which is up from only 18 percent in 2001.

Electronic medical records (or EMRs) are basically a computerized (or digital) version of a patient’s medical chart. EMRs contain identifying information about a patient, such as his or her address, phone numbers, work information, insurance information, and other personal data. They also contain information about a patient’s medical history, diagnoses of medical illnesses or injuries, current and previous medications, immunization records, allergies, as well as radiological images, test results, and lab reports.

One of the beneficial features of an EMR is that brings together information from current and past doctors, emergency departments, clinics, pharmacies, medical laboratories, and medical imaging facilities. However, because of the technological sophistication of some EMR systems, patients can potentially be harmed by medical record reporting errors.

Potential Problems With Electronic Medical Records

As highlighted by one news source, last month, a group of 37 medical societies, led by the American Medical Association, sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, highlighting how today’s electronic medical record systems are cumbersome, decrease efficiency, and cause safety problems for patients. The group also points out that that many electronic medical record systems currently being used by hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare providers are not certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to allow for electronic prescribing (or e-prescribing) of controlled substances.


While EMRs are the way of the future, they are not perfect and errors are still possible. For example, one physician acknowledged almost prescribing the wrong type of antibiotic for a patient’s ear infection, because he accidentally clicked on the wrong choice in his clinic’s EMR system, leading to the wrong prescription being printed, even though the doctor knew perfectly well which antibiotic he meant to prescribe.

Other errors can occur when certain fields are not check or when the wrong information is accidentally “cut and pasted” from one spot to another. In fact, in a federal survey of 100,000 conducted last fall, 15 percent said that electronic medical records had led them to choose the wrong medication or lab order. In another study, a hospital rating organization found that EMR systems failed to notify physicians of medication allergies about one-third of the time.

Time Away From Patient Care

Another potential issue with EMRs is that they can distract a doctor or other health care provider from focusing on the patient, leading to possible missed information or misinterpreted information. With the additional focus on data entry, treatment providers may be distracted and it may take away from the level of care that a prudent doctor would give to his or her patient. This lost time and focus can be crucial because the average doctor visit lasts only about 20 minutes.

Tallahassee Area Medical Malpractice Lawyers

If you have been injured in a medical setting and you believe that your injuries were caused by a medical record error, or by a doctor’s negligent diagnosis or treatment, it is critical that you speak with a legal professional that will work with you to obtain the compensation you deserve. At Fasig & Brooks, we have over 30 years of experience serving the people of Tallahassee and South Georgia area. Please call us today at (850) 222-3232 or use our online contact form to tell us how we can help you.