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The increasing use of electronic health records

In Arizona and around the country, the use of electronic health records has become increasingly popular with doctors and other health care practitioners. They have also had an effect in the courtroom as well, as EHRs are often introduced to demonstrate negligence in medical malpractice lawsuits.

In the view of many judges, electronic health records are expected to be complete, accurate and highly accessible, while paper records are expected to have a degree of human error. These electronic health records also hold a greater amount of data than their paper counterparts. This can be an advantage to a plaintiff, as the EHR may contain a small but important detail that was buried in a volume of other information and thus missed by the practitioner who has been named as a defendant.

Many observers believe that the use of electronic health records may be changing the standard of care that is required of physicians. With so much information contained in a typical EHR, it may now be necessary to more closely scrutinize the data that had been previously entered by other practitioners. It has also been suggested that the failure to adopt to the use of electronic health records could itself be a failure to follow the appropriate standard of care.

Patients whose conditions have been worsened as a result of a misdiagnosis based upon an incorrect entry in, or a failure to accurately interpret, an electronic health record may wish to speak with a medical malpractice attorney. Such an attorney might obtain the opinions of experts in order to determine whether such an error was a deviation from the required standard of care.

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