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Do electronic medical records increase the risk of injury?

A recent article highlights an unintended consequence of digital medical records: an explosion of administrative work. Rather than streamlining the intake process of documenting patient histories and current symptoms, it seems that electronic records create more work for doctors.

The possibility of miscommunication or omission may be present even under ideal circumstances. For example, patients may have difficulty in remembering all of their symptoms. In other cases, a patient may intentionally omit the description of certain symptoms, believing they are not relevant to the reason for his or her visit.

According to a recent survey of primary care physicians, many reported spending up to two-thirds of their day on administrative tasks, including updating electronic health records. Those administrative obligations may even mean that a doctor is forced to take extensive notes during his or her meetings with patients, at the expense of providing undivided attention to patients.

Part of a doctor’s duty of professional care to his or her patients is correctly diagnosing conditions, based on the symptoms described by patients and confirmed by any applicable tests. If a doctor failed to timely and correctly diagnose a patient because he or she was distracted by administrative tasks, any resulting injury may give rise to a medical malpractice claim. 

If you suspect that your injury was the result of a delayed diagnosis or a misdiagnosis, don’t delay in consulting with an attorney that specializes in medical malpractice suits. An attorney knows that doctors and hospitals may have their own legal teams, which might seem intimidating. With an attorney on your side, however, the process of investigating the cause of a medical injury and filing a lawsuit to hold hospital staff legally accountable will likely be much easier.

Source: The New York Times, “A Busy Doctor’s Right Hand, Ever Ready to Type,” Katie Hafner, Jan. 12, 2014

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