EMR “Ambulance” Chasing Lawyers

Posted on October 9, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

When I look around at EMR, I see so many opportunities for lawyers to do a ton of work. I’m not sure it will be all that much more than we see in the paper world, but there is that possibility. One challenge with paper charts is that despite some controls that are put in place, there really isn’t a good way to audit access of a paper chart. We really don’t know the scope of HIPAA violations that might have occurred without a single shred of evidence.

Turn that over to the EMR world where EMR software is chock full of audit controls. You can’t so much as click your mouse without a good EMR software tracking every click, keystroke, swipe, and touch. In most cases I think this is a really good thing. The simple fact that it is watching and tracking who is doing what is a great force in getting people to do what they’re suppose to be doing.

The challenge though is with everything now logged, it leaves open the opportunity to be questioned about every move. This is disconcerting for many EMR users. My fear is that with this new EMR tracking, how long until we have lawyers chasing EMR software?

Of course, the idea of an audit log is just one example of where lawyers could get involved with EMR software. What about lawyers and EMR software experts chasing after poorly designed EMR software that impacts patient lives.

Imagine that EMR software A has a bug in its drug to drug interaction checker and the doctor prescribes a drug that ends up causing the drug interaction and severe harm to the patient. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Once this is found, will we start seeing commercials from lawyers trying to find patients whose doctor uses that same EMR and might have had the same issue occur?

Thankfully, I have yet to see much of this going on, but where there’s money to be made it will happen. Just give it time.

What I have seen and heard about was some cases between doctors and EMR companies themselves. These are ugly and we rarely hear many details about them because EMR companies pay insane amounts of money to make sure it’s kept quiet. It’s amazing what you can be paid to be an EMR expert witness. I guess I have a fallback job if the EMR blogging doesn’t work out.