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Malpractice Claims Related to Electronic Health Records on the Rise

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A study recently released by medical malpractice insurance company, The Doctors Company, reveals an increase in malpractice claims related to electronic health records (EHR).

The study revealed the existence of two EHR claims from 2007 to 2010.  However, beginning in 2011, the number increased to 19, with an increase to 22 cases in 2012 and 28 in 2013.  In the first six months of 2014, the number of EHR cases increased to 26 (almost double the prior year if the rate continued).

The increase in EHR claims coincides with adoption of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 which provided financial incentives to medical provider’s adoption of EHR systems but with additional obligations to continue ensuring the financial privacy of patient health information.

The study reviewed claims ranging from typographical errors such as orders for Flomax, a drug used to treat enlarged prostates, instead of Flonase.  After typing “Flo”, the ERH system auto-populated potential matches, and the ordering physician accidentally selected Flomax.  The respective claim asserted that the EHR system failed to provide a drug alert because the patient was a female, a contraindication as the medication if approved only for males by the FDA.

Other claims involved:

  • the alleged copy and past of identical entries in medical records suggesting an incomplete assessment;
  • lack of EHR system containing a text box for needed information outside the potential selections of a drop down list;
  • use of improper and inappropriate EHR medical record templates for a given injury;
  • typographical errors for 5.0 mg of a given drug rather than the ordered dosage of 0.5 mg; and
  • improper training on the use of a facility’s EHR system (non-review of an available CT scan).

SLN SOURCES:  Oct. 2017 study by The Doctors Group; and F.R. 56123, Vol. 74, No. 209, Oct. 30, 2009.