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Electronic health records are becoming common

As many New Mexico residents know, electronic health records are quickly becoming standard as hospitals, other health care facilities and physician practices are routinely using them. However, EHRs are evolving in terms of physician use and training modalities. This evolution also includes the way state statutes and the courts view these records.

The use of EHRs has been lauded as a method that provides superior documentation. However, a necessary part of EHR use involves training. Without that, EHRs might be considered a liability for a physician. An EHR contains an abundance of data, often far more so than the typical written record. Since they are portable and easily accessed by a treating physician, the failure to review the record might be interpreted as doctor negligence. Overriding preprogrammed alerts when caring for a patient may be seen as providing substandard care.

Alerts are often part of the EHR and programmed as a safety measure. However, an alert may be inappropriate for a particular patient, and the health care provider may choose to override it. This judgment by the physician could in some cases be considered negligence even if the action was appropriate in hindsight. The electronic records are designed to help guide the physician in the decision-making process. If following them is considered adhering to an appropriate standard of care, this could have an effect on the way a physician's actions are viewed.

If a patient experiences harm due to a physician's failure to follow an appropriate course of treatment, speaking with an attorney may be beneficial. The attorney may review the records along with input from experts to determine if medical negligence was present.

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