For doctors bustling to make the transition to digital records, a healthcare IT lawyer is likely to be the least of their concerns. With physicians focused on those hefty Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments, all the talk these days seems to be geared towards Meaningful Use compliance – what is it, and how do we attest to it? The “meaningful use” scramble has doctors splurging on top-of-the-line office equipment and speedy network servers. Meanwhile, office efforts are centered on a smooth EMR implementation, software training, and making important decisions such as whether or not to implement an EMR-integrated patient portal.
While it may be true that electronic medical record software has long term cost cutting and time saving benefits and can improve quality of care, one thing healthcare professionals don’t seem to have present is the fact that their EMR can also expose them to potential lawsuits. If a provider’s EMR software was audited, for example, it would be easy to find out how long it took them to take action after receiving an abnormal lab result, or if they checked any online references prior to making their clinical decision. What’s crazier is that the EMR software may also be able to give up information regarding how long the doctor looked at a particular screen or whether they scrolled down to read a document in its entirety.
Because electronic medical record software tracks every move a healthcare provider makes and this information has the potential to be accessed for legal proceedings, some fear it will cause doctors to start practicing defensive medicine. This method safeguards doctors against possible malpractice liability but does not ensure patient health. Providers wary of the legal implications brought about by EMR use may choose to speak to a healthcare IT lawyer to find out how to protect themselves from possible malpractice lawsuits without compromising patient care.