Joseph Goedert from Health Data Management posted some really interesting news today about a new bill being introduced that would provide some legal protection to providers in case an EHR error occurs.
Here’s one excerpt from the article:
“The Safeguarding Access for Every Medicare Patient Act,” H.R. 3239, would limit electronic discovery in a legal action to information related to the EHR-related adverse event and information from the period in which the event occurred. This will limit attorneys from using EHRs to go on “fishing expeditions” and looking for other information, Marino says.
The legislation would set up a system for reporting potential errors when using EHRs without the threat of the information being used as an admission of guilt. It further would enable providers using EHRs to take remedial measures without that action being used to establish guilt, places time limits on the filing of lawsuits, and offers protection against libel and slander suits.
Of course, all sorts of legislation is proposed in Washington, but never actually passes. We’ll see how this one does. I have a feeling that most healthcare legislation is pretty toxic in Washington right now. I do love the idea of somehow preventing “fishing expeditions” as the article calls it or “ambulance chasers” if you will.
My biggest question with this bill is whether there has been similar regulations in other industries. If there hasn’t been similar legislation in other industries, then why should we have it in healthcare? Is there something unique in healthcare that we need to protect different than we do other industries? What are the safeguards that other industries use to avoid lots of lawsuits based on the use of software?
I can’t say I feel one way or another about this legislation right now. I’d just love to learn more about what the implications of the legislation would be. How could it be abused? What benefits could it provide? What issues could it shield that it shouldn’t? You know, all questions that should be asked of any legislation.
Any thoughts? I think one thing is certain, EHR lawsuits are just on the horizon. I bet we’ll have a whole industry of EHR expert witnesses created along the way.
Thanks to reader Jacki Channer for pointing out the news.