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Are electronic health records safe?

In Louisiana and across the United States, electronic health records have taken over as a simplified method doctors use to document patient interactions, transmit prescriptions, share medical records with other professionals, order lab tests and communication the results with patients. While this advanced technology was designed to reduce medical errors involving healthcare records, it may have opened the door to new types of negligence and mistakes. 

The software used to enhance the collection and transmission of healthcare records may not be as reliable as intended. Design flaws in the software have lead to significant medical errors that have resulted in patient injuries and deaths. In one case, a patient was suffering from severe head pain and dizziness. The attending physician ordered a brain scan but the electronic request never made it to the lab. As a result, the patient didn't receive the brain scan and ending up dying of an aneurysm. Other situations involve instances where patient notes ended up under the wrong patients, medication start and stop dates were wrong, prescriptions were transmitted incorrectly, screenings were not ordered properly and when they were, the results were not recorded correctly. All of these circumstances could potentially lead to medical errors, misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose. 

While healthcare record software companies attempt to fix these glitches, doctors should be extremely cautious when using these systems. Patients should also be aware of what is being ordered and seek a second opinion if necessary. 

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.



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