Avoid EHR Unintended Consequences With Good Follow Through

Thu, Jan 7, 2016 --


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Most practices in the United States now use electronic health records (EHRs) for the tasks of recording, storing, and retrieving medical information. Providers and staff cite the convenience of being able to access patient information remotely or search patient record databases for specific information like a blood pressure reading on a specific date. But as excellent a tool as an EHR can be for providers and their practices, inconvenience or even disaster lurk in the form of EHR unintended consequences.

If you’re a new EHR user, you might be thinking that once implementation is complete, you’re out of the woods as far as unintended consequences go. But they can happen at any time, before, during, or long after implementation.

Unintended Consequences Harm Both Patient and Practice

Some examples of unintended consequences include more work for clinicians, unfavorable workflow issues, constant demands from the system, inability to give up paper, undesirable changes in communication practices, and generation of new types of errors.

Unaddressed, Undiscovered EHR Problems Lead to Malpractice Award

Another example of an EHR unintended consequence is a malpractice lawsuit. Follow this link to an entry in this blog that gave details of a malpractice suit that resulted in a $1 million settlement for the plaintiff (the patient). The electronic health records, especially a series of copied and pasted progress notes showing identical information each day, were the plaintiff’s most compelling evidence of negligence in the case.

Fight Off Unintended Consequences

To fight off unintended consequences of EHRs, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) suggests that practices follow these steps.

  • Actively involve clinicians and staff in technology reassessment and ongoing quality improvement.
  • Continuously monitor for problems and address any issues as quickly as possible.
  • Use brainstorming methods among multiple affected disciplines to improve system quality and provide feedback to vendors.
  • Continually reassess and improve safety effectiveness and error-detection capabilities, including the use of error tracking tools and evaluation of near-miss events.

Do You Work With an EMR?

I do, and I love it! It’s so great to be able to pull up past transcribed reports when I’m working in a medical record that is missing information. How’s your EHR treating you? Let us know in the comment box below. We love to hear from you!

Increase EHR Efficiency With SuperCoder’s Code Data Sets

Need to increase the efficiency of your EHR? It’s easy to tie your code data sets, including ICD-10, into your EHR with SuperCoder. SuperCoder’s budget-friendly data sets can help you update your coding database or charge master for ICD-10-CM implementation with a developer-ready code set format that includes the same hierarchical arrangement that CMS uses. Enhance your EHR’s reimbursement capability with SuperCoder today!


Susan taught health information and healthcare documentation at the community college level for more than 20 years. She has a special love for medical language and terminology. She is passionate about ensuring accurate patient healthcare documentation through education. She has a master's degree in healthcare administration, is a certified healthcare documentation specialist, and serves as immediate past president for the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

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