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Malpractice Concerns Mount As Healthcare Becomes Increasingly Virtual

The nature of healthcare is changing. As patient medical records, billing and even prescriptions become increasingly electronic, the kinds of medical mistakes and resulting medical malpractice that may occur as a result are changing as well. Electronic records can help healthcare providers to avoid certain kinds of mistakes. However, dependence on electronic systems is creating new patient safety hazards as well.

When all patient information is digitized, any one mistake in inputting or processing this data can affect a patient’s total care plan. In addition, liability for such mistakes is becoming increasingly complex. May patients hold their healthcare providers directly liable for any system-based mistakes that lead to harm, or must they sue the software providers directly?

In addition, some newer technologies are causing unique kinds of patient harm. For example, the media has recently reported on several separate instances of patient abuse and injury caused by out of control surgical robots. Until technologies are properly tested and have withstood the tests of time, newer cannot always be heralded as better when it comes to healthcare and patient safety.

There are countless benefits to electronic assistance in healthcare matters. If programs are designed and used correctly, they can help to eliminate errors related to diagnosis, patient history, incorrectly read scans and a host of other scenarios. However, it is critical that healthcare providers and patients alike do not become complacent with virtual healthcare mechanisms. Errors made within these systems can be just as lethal as mistakes made “the old fashioned way.”

Source: USA Today, “Virtual health care gaining ground,” Carol Gorga Williams, May 6, 2013