EMR and Social Media Medical Malpractice Liability Considerations:

EMR and Social Media Medical Malpractice Liability Considerations:

July 19, 2011

Electronic Medical Records are eventually going to become incorporated into every medical practice.

With this implementation of a practice’s electronic health record systems come additional risks. The Doctors’ Insurance Agency represents The Doctors’ Company for medical malpractice insurance, and, thus, would like too shared the information available to manage risk and control the high cost of data breach.

Each week, as an insured physician with The Doctors’ Company, you will have access to more studies and reviews of claims and information about new technologies.

No where is this more prevalent than in the areas of electronic medical records and social media applications. Practices now have electronic connections to labs, surgery centers, hospitals, imaging and endoscopy centers,

these electronic connections open up opportunities to lose or leak the data. Moreover, if patient harm results from lack of or incorrect information than the doctor and his / her office could be held liable.

The wealth of information available due to the presence and success of e filing presents a higher duty of care on the physician to make sure they interact with other physicians prescribing drugs that may counteract another.

If one drug mixed with another presents danger to the patient, the physician has a responsibility to communicate clearly which course of action they as a team are going to take. There are over 200 Million patients loaded on to the Secure net site, inevitably there is a higher risk associated with keeping that data both secure and accurate. Moreover, if a physician fails to take advantage of the built in ‘flow chart’ of medical alerts when a contra indication is triggered, the physician is going to be held liable for not intervening before the medical injury occurs.

The E.H.R. systems are programmed with medical alerts designed to stop the prescription of drugs based upon information contained in the patients online record. Additionally, ‘cloning’ patient records in order to save time may result in over-documentation or even carrying over inaccurate medical information from one patient to another. there can result real damage and harm due to treatment plans that are not as unique or tailored to the patient.

Efficiencies can save time and eliminate the personalization of healthcare…cloning by copying and pasting information into the physician’s reporting of the patients progress or even a narrative review is lost.

One of the risks cited by The Doctors’ Company that can create real liability is the ‘auto populate’ fields. If the fields are not entered accurately, than misleading or incorrect data could populate the entire record.

Additionally, an unintended consequence of the E.H.R. era is that the relationship between the physician and the patient becomes de personalized as the physician works on the interface and updating of fields and data.

The physician patient relationship needs to retain its special quality, allowing room for the physician to be intuitive and creative.

Patient interfaces online can present a situation where ‘TMI’ (too much information) puts a burden on the physician to respond or claim in writing that this particular condition or concern is outside of their area of expertise, document that discussion and refer along. Also consistent with TMI is the log on and log off times in each record, plaintiff lawyers are inclined to seek access to the time that a physician spent looking at a particular record, which can be or appear to be detrimental to the physician’s confidence or case.

Social media for physicians should be used for information and promotion of practice only.

the site should have clear instructions; confidentiality and communication instructions on their websites regarding appropriate information to post online.

HIPAA and Hitec guidelines require a higher level of protection. It is important to remember that anything that is sent in email becomes discoverable and a part of the permanent record.