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.”

EHR Data Continues To Save Lives

In the midst of all the MU Stage 2 controversy comes evidence that EHRs are still having positive impacts on patient health outcomes. In May of this year Healthcare It News released an article with data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, reported 15,000 lives and $4B saved so far from HAC reductions.

These reductions in adverse drug events, falls and infections have prevented nearly 15,000 deaths, avoided 560,000 injuries and saved as much as $4 billion in health spending over the same period.

“We applaud the nationwide network of hospital systems and providers that are working together to save lives and reduce costs,” said outgoing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We are seeing a simultaneous reduction in hospital readmissions and injuries, giving patients confidence that they are receiving the best possible care and lowering their risk of having to be readmitted to the hospital after they get the care they need.”

A more recent study by researchers in the U.S. and United Kingdom published by CMAJ Open analyzed 11.5 million electronic patient records, identifying a jaw dropping number of undiagnosed cases of diabetes. Using an algorithm that analyzed biomedical data, researchers were able to identify that off the total 1,174,018 patients with diabetes, 63, 620, had undiagnosed diabetes. Diabetes kills one person every six seconds and afflicts 382 million people worldwide, according to the International Diabetes Federation, a staggering number indeed. If the only positive outcome of EHRs were to identify diabetes patients worldwide and in return provide the treatment they require in order to save their life, it would be worthwhile. Suffice being inundated with negative commentary on EHRs and Meaningful use in the last few months, I believe this is enough evidence to at least quiet the cynics and chalk this one in the win category.

If you need assistance with optimizing your EHR or andy other EHR needs please contact EHR & Practice Management Consultants, Inc (www.ehrpmc.com) for additional assistance at 1-800-376-0212 or contact@ehrpmc.com