Technological advances in medicine over the past 50 years have greatly benefited patients through the use of emerging treatments and technology-assisted procedures that allow doctors and other medical providers to provide better care to their patients faster and at a lower cost. As many parts of the medical field have rapidly progressed through the information age, certain areas of the profession continue to lag behind other industries, and this arguably prevents doctors and other medical professionals from giving their patients the best treatment possible. Medical record-keeping practices serve as an example of how the profession has not quite caught up with the rest of society, and patients can be harmed as a result.
Many Doctors Still Use the Color-Coded Charts for Patients’ Medical History
A patient’s medical history contains some of the most important information that doctors need to know before diagnosing and treating a condition or prescribing medication. The patient’s “chart” provides a place for this important information to be recorded, and it has often consisted of an actual paper chart that is physically stored for each patient at a doctor’s office (often in some sort of color-coded folder that is stored behind the receptionist). Although this system has generally worked for the last 100 years that it has been in use, it is an obsolete relic of an older time that is due for replacement.
Rising health care costs and a complicated health insurance system have resulted in patients changing doctors or being referred to specialists more often than in the past. Although a patient’s entire medical history is supposed to be in the chart that a new doctor has on hand when seeing a patient, that is not always the case. If previous conditions, prescribed medications, or medication allergies are not properly listed on the medical chart, a doctor may choose a treatment or make a prescription error that endangers a patient.
The Electronic Health Record Is Replacing the Wall of Charts
With technology advancing, medical record-keeping has become more accurate and consistent with the introduction of the Electronic Health Record (EHR), sometimes referred to as the Electronic Medical Record. The EHR is a digital version of a patient’s chart that can be updated in real time and is available to several professionals at once, even if they are operating in different offices. Some doctors and other professionals have been slow to catch on with using the EHRs, but as the next generation of medical professional emerges (and the last generation retires), the use of electronic record-keeping should become uniform in coming decades.
Prescription Errors That Occur With EHR
A recently published study that was discussed in a medical journal last month found that while the use of EHRs has increased and resulted in better overall record-keeping, new and different errors were occurring to harm patients. According to the report, the most common types of prescription errors made by professionals using the EHR systems involved accidentally clicking on the wrong patient or medication from a dropdown menu on the computer interface. The study concluded that doctors and other medical professionals should double-check their prescriptions to prevent this mistake and discuss the prescription with their patient after it prints off to get another chance to catch an error.
Whether patients are part of the discussion or not, it is ultimately the doctor’s responsibility to prescribe the intended medication in the correct dosage to the right patient, and it is the pharmacist’s responsibility to dispense the prescription properly. Prescription errors that are made when doctors use an EHR system may result in serious complications for the patient, which continue to be the responsibility of the medical professionals providing the care.
Medical Malpractice and Prescription Errors
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a prescription error or another medical mistake, you may have a claim for relief. Discuss your case with one of the skilled Maryland pharmacy error and medical malpractice attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen to determine if you may be entitled to a settlement as compensation for the mistakes that were made. With the assistance of our prescription error lawyers, you can stick up for your legal rights and hold medical professionals accountable for their mistakes. Contact one of our offices to discuss your case with a Maryland pharmacy error attorney. The consultation is confidential and costs you nothing. To talk with a lawyer about your case, call us toll-free at 1-800-654-1949 or contact us online. At Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent clients in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and the entire Washington, D.C. area.
More Blog Posts:
Prescription Errors Can Have Devastating Consequences, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, November 14, 2016.
Victims of Dangerous Pharmacy Mistakes Shouldn’t Feel Guilty about Filing a Claim, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, December 1, 2016.