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Problems with digital medical records

Many South Carolina hospitals have now switched to digital records in an effort to improve patient care, but digitized medical records can also cause problems. While digital medical records are supposed to eliminate errors related to doctors' handwriting and make access to patient histories easier, faulty information and network problems can put patients at risk. Issues related to digital records are also increasing: The number of medical errors caused by digital records doubled between 2010 and 2011, according to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.

One major complaint about digital records is that they open the door to giving patients the wrong medication or wrong dosage. Thanks to confusing programs, dangerous dosages of drugs have been given to patients, and in some cases, programming errors have led to incorrect medications being ordered for patients. Digital records have also caused people to undergo unnecessary surgeries due to incorrect information, and delays in medical images being sent caused by network problems have resulted in serious harm to patients.

The issues caused by digital records may also be understated. This is because software companies that develop programs for medical centers are not held to the same standards as medical-device manufacturers, which are required to report injuries and deaths to the FDA. For this reason, most of the information available about medical errors related to digital records are from voluntary reports.

Medical professionals should ensure they do due diligence to make sure that patients are receiving the correct medications and the correct dosage. If someone has been harmed due to faulty records, he or she may be owed compensation. A lawyer could help individuals harmed by doctor errors understand their rights and represent their interests in court.

Source: Bloomberg, "Digital Health Records’ Risks Emerge as Deaths Blamed on Systems", Jordan Robertson, June 25, 2013

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