Electronic Health Records Linked to a Rising Number of Medical Malpractice Claims

We want to believe that the era of electronic records is making our lives safer. However, according to a Doctors Company data analysis of malpractice claims from 2010-2018, medical malpractice lawsuits related to electronic health records (EHR) are becoming more common in the United States. In fact, the percentage of claims in which EHRs contributed to injury or death nearly quadrupled during the nine-year period, representing 0.35% of malpractice claims in 2010 up to 1.39% in 2018.

In the analysis of 216 closed claims, researchers found that the rate of EHR-related claims is growing, with a low of seven cases in 2010 increasing to an annual average of 22.5 cases between 2017-2018. While EHR claims are still low compared to other forms of malpractice, accounting for just 1.1% of all claims since 2010, they are still a cause for concern: as EHRs become nearly universally used, they are likely to become a greater source of risk for malpractice.

It is important to note that EHRs are not usually the main reason behind claims. More often, EHR errors are secondary contributing factors of malpractice incidents. Even so, the risks that EHR errors pose to patients can aggravate already dangerous situations. EHR-related claims are caused by system technology and design issues, such as technology or electronic systems failure, or user-related issues, such as fragmented medical records or incorrectly inputted data. Researchers also identified family medicine, internal medicine, cardiology and radiology as the specialties that account for the highest percentage of claims, with diagnosis-related errors representing nearly one in three EHR-related claims.

EHR errors can have devastating consequences on patient safety, with at least seven percent of claims resulting in injury. The most common negative outcomes in EHR-related claims include:

  • Adverse reactions to medication
  • Death
  • Dysfunction in mobility
  • Emotional trauma
  • Infection
  • Need for surgery
  • Organ damage
  • Ongoing pain
  • Undiagnosed malignancy

It is critical that hospitals and physicians take precautionary steps to decrease the risk of EHR-related medical malpractice incidents.

If you or a loved one suffered due to medical malpractice, contact the attorneys at Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A. in Ohio to discuss your legal options today.