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Electronic health records could give rise to more liability risk
Date:6/21/2010

escribing the thrust of the article.

"It's very personal to health care providers," she said. "It's what everybody who sits at that computer and uses it to manage patient care needs to know."

At first glance, a quick transition to digital heath records seems a normal, even overdue part of the wider flow of high-tech change. It may seem surprising that many health care professionals continue to jot down notes and prescriptions on paper.

Even so, many doctors might not be fully aware of the fresh liability risk, Podgurski said. Problems providing are can arise, for example, if an EHR system contains software bugs, if it is too complicated, or if training for users is insufficient.

"Whether or not there is a software bug, in the sense of a clear error that causes a wrong output, the usability of the system may be lacking, and that may lead a user to make mistakes that have safety implications," he said.

The authors make a strong case that without thoughtful intervention and sound guidance from government and medical organizations, EHR technology may encumber rather than support clinicians and may hinder rather than promote health outcome improvements. Aiming to prevent potential problems, Hoffman and Podgurski propose a uniform process for developing authoritative clinical practice guidelines, and they explore how EHR technology can assist in determining best practices. They offer recommendations to address liability concerns.

Congress has made a $19 billion investment in promoting health information technology, provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seeks to achieve nationwide usage of electronic health records by 2014.

So now is the best time to consider pitfalls. While the new Hoffman-Podgurski article draws attention to concerns over how EHR technology can lead to problems with patient care, the authors also point out t
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Contact: Marv Kropko
mrk107@case.edu
216-368-6890
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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