Are You Prepared for a Malpractice Suit, Will you EHR Protect or Hurt You?

According to recent research providers may be in for a rude awakening. The U.S. Department of Health and Human, the office announced in May 2013 that more than half of all doctors and eligible clinicians had received Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments for adopting or meaningfully using EHRs. Usage by eligible professionals grew by 33% from 2008 to 2012, the agency said in a press release. New pitfalls emerge with such fast-moving technology, Ms. Chestler said[1]. Design flaws, complex templates, and careless usage by health professionals are all factors that can fuel EHR-related lawsuits and contribute to challenges defending claims. Being mindful of the potential legal dangers of EHRs and taking steps to prevent them can save physicians significant time and expense, experts agreed.

Every aspect of EHR selection, implementation, and use may be examined in the course of medical malpractice discovery to find the source of the incident, or undermine the records that are being presented in defense of the malpractice claim. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) states the healthcare provider is the covered entity responsible for maintaining the integrity of the patient’s medical record — not the EHR vendor, consultant, or the systems integrator. A doctor can be held liable because most vendors’ contracts essentially say, ‘We do not practice medicine; it is up to the physician to make sure this EHR is being used correctly.’ Practices must understand what they’re using and verify that the system is appropriately set up to document the care they provide.”

With this being a highly litigious society it is important for providers and provider organizations for be informed of the dangers that EHR can pose from a legal standpoint. At EHR &Practice Management Consultants, Inc. we have consultants whose sole role it to provide advice on these matters. Of course it is important to be proactive and have an assessment completed prior to any litigation, but we can also assist in the event that a lawsuit has already been filed. Please contact our offices today for more information at 1(800)376-0212 or contact@ehrpmc.com, it may be a determining factor in preventing litigation or assist in your defense.

[1] Alisa L. Chestler, a Washington, D.C.-based health law attorney at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. She co-wrote a 2013 American Health Lawyers Association report titled “Minimizing EHR-Related Serious Safety Events.”

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