The Importance of Electronic Medical Records in Malpractice Cases

Connecticut residents have likely heard about medical malpractice lawsuits that resulted in substantial damages being awarded to the victims of doctor and hospital mistakes, but they may not be aware of how often these cases hinge on electronic medical records. Hospitals rely on EMRs to record the effectiveness of prescribed treatment plans and the opinions of physicians, but judges sometimes view this kind of electronic data with skepticism.

One problem with EMRs is that they do not always make clear which doctor ordered a particular test or even if the test was performed at all. Another problem with electronic data is that it can often be manipulated easily without leaving signs that the information has been tampered with. A judge in one medical negligence lawsuit ruled that the EMR be excluded because its contents could not be relied upon to provide an accurate record of events.

These electronic records are often difficult to understand, and judges are not always comfortable with technology to begin with. Experts recommend that hospitals restrict the use of templates and scanning while insisting that all authorizations to provide treatment be signed electronically. Many hospitals embrace EMRs because they believe that these records will reduce the amount of malpractice lawsuits, but experts say that they often fail to institute adequate policies and procedures to ensure that the information provided is accurate and clear.

The victims of doctor and hospital mistakes often suffer life-changing injuries, but these cases are frequently complex and difficult. An attorney with experience in this area could scrutinize the contents of EMRs to determine if errors have been made and then call upon experts to assist with these evaluations when the records are unclear.