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Could electronic medical records be killing patients?

When you visit your doctor's office or you end up in the emergency room, do you want the doctor looking at you or a computer screen?

Unfortunately, the question is irrelevant for most patients because the computer screen won out when the majority of hospitals and offices moved to electronic health records. They're supposed to make things easier for doctors and nurses, and the care delivered to patients more consistent overall.

However, those systems can be so convoluted and unwieldy that the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that they may pose a "risk for patients." There's no standard design system among them. It can take some systems 62 clicks just for a doctor to order a dose of Tylenol for a patient. Medical professionals working a hospital in the emergency room can make 4,000 clicks in one shift alone.

Many believe that the government's rush to modernize the entire medical record system is largely to blame. It's created a costly and complicated mess. Mistakes in electronic records are far too common. There have been instances where people have been misdiagnosed or suffered delayed cancer diagnoses because test records ended up in the wrong file. Overdoses have occurred because medications have been entered incorrectly. According to a recent report, electronic health records play a role in one-third of all medication mistakes.

In addition, there's another problem: The electronic records take some of the autonomy away from the doctors. They're required to follow certain prompts and check certain boxes. That could cause doctors to have a false sense of security if a patient is showing symptoms that don't check the "right" boxes.

If a problem with a medical health record's defective design led to your injury or the death of a loved one, it's time to seek more information about all of your legal options.

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