As hospitals rush to computerize medical records, patients may be at risk. As the Los Angeles Times reported, hospitals across the country faced a “blackout” on July 23, which blocked or limited access to critical patient records. Cerner Corp., the provider of the electronic medical records technology, blamed “human error.”
Hospitals, doctors, nurses and pharmacists rely more and more on electronic records as they care for patients, fill prescriptions, give treatments or medication, and check patient histories. When the systems fail, some experts say, caregivers may end up “flying blind” when trying to treat patients.
When hospitals change over to electronic medical records, they’re supposed to have backup systems in place. Doctors at some of the affected hospitals, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, say that they used backup systems and that patient care shouldn’t have been affected. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is looking into problems that electronic medical records may cause for patients. The Institute of Medicine says that the United States should form an agency or group to look into injuries or deaths caused by the shortcomings of electronic medical records.
Hospital Have Incentive to Use Electronic Records
The transition to computerized records means big money for hospitals and doctors. More than $27 billion has poured into changeover efforts under the 2009 stimulus bill, according to the Los Angeles Times. This provides a financial incentive for so-called early adopters of the electronic records systems. Under new health care laws, hospitals and providers that don’t switch to electronic medical records systems by 2015 will face steep penalties from the government.
Cerner Corp. serves 9,300 health care providers worldwide, the company says, including more than 2,600 hospitals. The company says that it’s looking into ways of preventing future problems. Some hospitals, however, worried about how long it took the company to restore service during the blackout.
Some hospitals that rely on Cerner to provide electronic records systems say they also have staff and systems onsite to serve as a backup. They say that the affected hospitals may have relied on Cerner to provide all the technology, perhaps to avoid having hiring staff to establish their own backup systems.
Were You the Victim of Medical Malpractice? Contact a S.C. Malpractice Lawyer
When sick people go to a doctor or hospital for care, they expect to be helped, not harmed. When health care professionals make mistakes that harm patients, it may be considered medical malpractice. Malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse or other medical caregiver fails to follow the accepted standards of care within the medical profession. This failure causes a new injury or illness to the patient, or aggravates an existing one.
If you or someone in your family has been the victim of medical malpractice in South Carolina, contact the Louthian Law Firm today toll free at 888-662-0430 or locally at 803-454-1200. You can also contact us online for a free evaluation of your case. We serve clients in Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken, Sumter, Charleston, Irmo, Myrtle Beach, Richland County, Rock Hill and throughout South Carolina.