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Malpractice Insurers Getting Nervous as Better Documented Records from Providers and Empowered Patients Emerge

Posted Dec 01 2010 2:06am

This is a bit of a switch but it is the market that is being created with better documentation and there are fears now that lawsuits could grow and if you read further down one of the items listed as a fear factor is the easier access to electronic medical records from the patient.  Wait a minute, is this not the plan so we can cut down on errors and get better care? image

Well this side of the business is nervous as profit levels might deteriorate with more patients in a position to sue with better documentation in hand.  This is what the industry is pushing for and yet this side worries that lawyers too with better documentation could be filing and winning more suits.  Guess what, lawyers like electronic data too when they do their jobs, no matter which side they are on.  Liability carriers don’t have the same luxury of simply denying a claim as they are either out of court settlements or a full on trial. 

Perhaps some of these folks on the liability side should be talking to the health insurers who want all of this documentation to score and determine who gets care so they understand how this is all supposed to work. I just thought this was interesting in the fact that we don’t hear a lot about this side of the business and now they too are concerned about their profits too.  Be the empowered patient and get your data as the goal is to not make errors but to better work with doctors and hospitals so this side of the business doesn’t have to come into play.  BD 

Hospitals and medical practices that implement electronic medical records could end up paying more for liability insurance, at least in the short term, an insurance industry research group has concluded.

Underwriters are concerned that errors will initially increase as EMRs are implemented, driving up claims and the cost of defending against them, according to the executive summary of a new report by Hartford, Conn.-based Conning Research and Consulting.

More than 90 percent of hospitals and medical practices have yet to implement EMRs that meet federal meaningful use standards, according to the report, "Medical Professional Liability in a Changing Health Care Environment - The New Story Unfolds." Use of electronic records will increase, in all likelihood dramatically, as health care providers move to capture federal financial incentives for adopting the technology.

Claims also could increase as patients gain easier access to their electronic medical records, which include more data than paper files, the report said. Providers who don't follow treatment protocols embedded in EMRs face higher risks of being sued. Specialists will be particularly vulnerable, Conning said. In addition, the cost of defending against claims will likely increase as more lawyers use electronic legal discovery and metadata, according to the report.

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