The Institute of Medicine is studying the use of electronic medical records (EMRs). In this regard, it recently published a report entitled Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer. Lawyers who represent patients injured by medical negligence have encountered their own problems with EMRs insofar as it is virtually impossible to get an accurate copy of the patient’s medical record from this electronic system.
A far more serious problem has arisen in the form of injuries occurring to patients by virtue of technical glitches in the operation of the EMR. These injuries even have a name, “e-iatrogenic injuries.” This name comes from e for electronic and iatrogenic which refers to avoidable injuries caused by healthcare providers.
A very interesting dissenting opinion to the report’s conclusions was presented by one committee member who felt that EMRs should be regulated as Class III medical devices by the FDA. We strongly agree. In many ways, EMRs act as a healthcare provider due to its dynamic capabilities, influence on care decisions and even its ability to make mistakes like prescription errors. You can read the dissenting opinion here: http://www.ctlab.org/documents/CookDissent.pdf.