“Cutting and pasting” text from one document to another makes
many of our jobs much easier. However, when it comes to electronic medical
records, the shortcut could lead to a serious medical mistake.
According to a 2013 study reported by
Reuters, the way doctors and other healthcare professionals use software to update
medical records could be putting patients at risk. Much like word processing
software, it allows doctors to copy data from one medical record to another
or within the same medical record.
To see how frequently this tool is used, researchers from Case Western
Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland looked at 2,068 patient
progress reports which were created electronically by 62 residents and
11 attending physicians at a Cleveland I.C.U. The study found that 82
percent of notes from residents and 74 percent of notes from attending
physicians consisted of at least 20% copied and pasted material from the
Although the researchers did not look at how copying and pasting impacted
patient care, safety experts are concerned. In a case discussed by lead
study author, Dr. Daryl Thornton, the medical record of a readmitted patient
included so much copied and pasted information that the new doctors could
not determine the original diagnosis; ultimately, they were forced to
contact the doctors that initially treated the patient.
“If your communication isn't accurate, timely, complete and factual,
then you really could be transmitting bad information forward that then
creates this tumbling effect," said Ann Gaffey, president of Healthcare
Risk and Safety Strategies, which conducted a similar study.
If you or someone you love has suffered from
medical negligence, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage
for a free consultation.