Rising claims, rising concerns
A 2017 research report by The Doctors Company, a medical malpractice insurer, revealed that the number of medical malpractice claims among their approximately 80,000 plan members involving EHRs in some way has risen in lockstep with EHR adoption.
The report found two closed EHR-related claims between 2007 and 2010. Between 2011 and 2013, the number jumped to an average of about 23 claims each year. The upward trend continued in 2014, 2015, and 2016: where a total of 92 EHR-related malpractice claims over the three years, or an average of about 30 per year, were closed.
Such medical errors can have profound consequences for patients. In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Public Safety, Graber and his colleagues discovered most EHR-related errors involved medications, diagnoses, or a complication of treatment in the ambulatory care setting.
Perhaps most strikingly, 80 percent of such claims involved moderate or severe harm to the patient. Daryl Zaslow, JD, an attorney specializing in medical malpractice law, says there are many ways that malpractice could arise from an error in a patient’s EHR.
“What typically happens is that there’s a failure to input or access information that is vital to a patient’s health,” he explains. “Therefore, that information is not communicated to another medical care provider who is also involved with the patient’s care and something bad happens.”