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Do EMRs Make Practicing Medicine Safer or More Dangerous?

Recently I wrote about a Harvard study that found evidence that physicians that use electronic medical records systems (EMRs) are less likely to be involved in a malpractice lawsuit. But regardless of whether your charts are better documented and therefore make you less of a target for a claim, does using EMR make you practice medicine better?

According to the Huffington Post Investigative Fund, there have been several cases of EMRs gone amok. In most cases there was no harm to patients. But they quote Dr. Jeffrey Shuren of the FDA as attributing six deaths and 200 injuries to poorly implemented CPOE (computerized physician order entry). Many critics of the government’s EMR implementation plan point to these cases as examples of not enough regulation and oversight.

On the other hand, the ONC (Office of the National Coordinator [for Health Information Technology]) spokesman says the they are working closely with a number of organizations including the FDA to improve safety. Critics say that the ONC has too friendly a relationship with the EMR industry, and feel that the FDA needs to be given more authority to collect and analyze errors caused by EMR systems.

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