EMR Use and Malpractice Liability

Someone sent me this article (you’ll have to subscribe to see the full article) on EMR use and the liability that comes with using an EMR. I must admit that having covered EMR for a number of years, I’m surprised that the malpractice side of an EMR hasn’t gotten more coverage. Certainly there are potential malpractice risks and benefits to using an EMR. This section of the article pretty well sums it all up:

An estimated 85,000 medical lawsuits are filed annually, which include those against hospitals and individual physicians. One of the highly-touted benefits of electronic medical records (EMRs) is the potential to help prevent malpractice incidents and medical errors. By providing better documentation, automatically checking for medication errors and drug interactions, providing failsafe systems to track test results and follow-up with patients, EMRs can dramatically reduce the risk of malpractice.

While the benefits of EMRs are far greater than the cons, no road is without stumbling blocks. A physician who is not careful when using the EMR could increase his malpractice liability.

The article goes on to list the following malpractice risks of using an EHR:

  • Too much information
  • Wrong Template can Bollix Up the Chart
  • Changing the Standard of Care
  • Attention to the Patient

Malpractice is definitely something to make sure you consider when implementing an EMR to avoid problems down the road.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I think that a careless physician in an organization doing any process improvement could increase the risk of malpractice. At the same time, it doesn’t make sense to stick to techniques that are less effective for the patient because of potential lawsuits.

    For a silly example, if a hospital created a new protocol that a practitioner had to wash their hands between each patient visit, then many patients would benefit. Of course, I’m assuming that previously there was no hand washing policy. However, now that hand washing is a protocol, then those who didn’t do it would be more likely to be hit with malpractice suits (and rightly so in this case).

    The point is that positive changes can’t be made if we live in constant fear of malpractice claims.

  • Good point. I definitely don’t want people to not implement an EMR because of malpractice. I just want people to be aware of the potential impacts and risks related to malpractice so that they implement the EMR wisely.

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