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Do electronic records endanger the patient intake process?

In a recent post, we discussed some of the patient injuries that might result from negligent medical record keeping. The advent of electronic health records was widely perceived as a potential remedy to that problem. Federal officials apparently also shared that view, as tens of billions of dollars in federal funding has been provided to hospitals and medical centers for the purpose of subsidizing the switch to digital records.

However, a recent survey indicated that two-thirds of a primary care physician’s day might be devoted to updating electronic health records and performing other administrative tasks. Those work duties may even carry over into the exam room, resulting in many doctors finding themselves too busy with note-taking to maintain constant eye contact with their patients.

A medical malpractice attorney understands the importance of a doctor devoting his or her full attention to what a patient is saying. Yet when a doctor is too burdened with administrative tasks to look a patient in the eye, there arises the possibility of negligence and resulting patient injury.

Fortunately, a growing number of healthcare professionals who are finding themselves overburdened with electronic administrative tasks are turning to scribes, or clerical workers hired expressly for the purpose of taking electronic notes that will be used to update patient records.

A patient has the right to understand the risks and potential medical outcomes associated with a medical procedure. A patient must also be given the opportunity to fully describe his or her symptoms to a doctor. If a patient was denied those rights and subsequently injured by the physician’s treatment, there may be cause for bringing a medical malpractice claim. An attorney can fully advise injured patients of their options.

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