Electronic Medical Record Backlash as Doctors Protest Flawed System


A recent report by the American Medical Association reports that many of the nation’s physicians have major concerns about Electronic Health Records (EHR). What concerns are prompting so many of the nation’s health care professional prganizations to resist transitioning to EHR, even when threatened with fines and other sanctions? Privacy and the ability to safeguard patient information top the list, according to the AMA.

Doctors opposing the switch to Federally mandated electronic health records site the faulty and problematic system setup and concerns about patient safety as a top concern.  A group of 37 medical societies from all disciplines united in sending a letter condemning the practice, calling the current EHR system cumbersome and inefficient.


User error when information is entered or edited is also a concern. As health care workers update files, simply entering something in the wrong data field can cause catastrophic health problems for patients. Missing allergy information, failure to update the list of medications a patient is taking or leaving our critical health details can cause problems for patients when electronic medical records are used.


Patient safety concerns stem from the systems inability to relay complete records and information with confidence; doctors need to see the full picture of a patient’s history to make a correct diagnosis. Some areas are not fully set up to handle electronically submitted prescriptions, making it difficult for patients to get the medications they need, according to the letter.


Cyber security becomes a major concern as well. In the past, if someone wanted to steal patient records for identity theft or payment information, they were limited to what they could carry in their hands or what could be downloaded from a single hacked facility. A central database with the problems the Electronic Health Records currently has could expose patient’s information in more ways than one.


While electronic medical records are a great idea in theory, they still have a long way to go to be effective and safe in practice, according to the AMA team.  Penalizing providers who do not opt in to EMR while the system is flawed may adversely impact patients and put consumers at risk. Like any good medical device, the system should be tested and proven safe before using it to care for actual patients.

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