As technology improved over the ages, and the use of computers became increasingly common. Thus, health care professionals in Florida and across the nation, backed by a law passed by the federal government, moved from keeping paper medical records to keeping electronic health records. The idea was that electronic records would reduce medical errors, and they would provide patients with a portable system in which they could easily share their medical history with any other health care provider -- something that could prove invaluable in a life-threatening emergency.
However, despite the $36 billion the federal government has spent so far following a law to accelerate the transition from paper records to electronic records, electronic health records have not met the goals the government, health care professionals and patients hoped they would. Physicians have stated that the systems can be difficult and time-consuming to navigate. Since there are over 700 vendors of electronic health records systems, rather than a single global network, many records still need to be transferred via fax or CD-ROM, and patients can find it difficult, if not impossible, to access their own medical records.
In addition, there are a significant number of reports that serious injuries and fatalities occurred due to user error or glitches in the software of these electronic medical records. In one Health Affairs study of three pediatric hospitals, between 2012 and 2017 there were 3,243 medication errors in which electronic health record usability was a factor. In fact, even though the government requires that electronic health record systems have a function for ordering medication, it was found that in one test simulation, potentially harmful drug orders were not flagged in 39 percent of the cases. This could lead to medication errors.
Medication errors are only one problem linked to electronic health records. While electronic health records continue to become the norm, more needs to be done to ensure that health care professionals know how to use them efficiently and effectively. When electronic health records play a role in a medication error, any subsequent lawsuit can be quite complex, especially in situations where there are multiple parties at fault. However, sometimes it is only by taking legal action that victims of medication errors can receive the compensation they need to move on from the incident.