Electronic health record could crash medical system


More than 80 percent of 571 physician respondents believe that electronic health records impede patient care, and 47 percent believe it endangers patient safety.

This is according to an internet survey by The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

The survey, of physicians and patients, found that fewer than 6 percent of respondents felt that on the whole, electronic health records improve patient care. More than 63 percent said that it compromises confidentiality, and 76 percent said that it is "a cash cow for data miners."

"EHRs are supposed to be a cure-all for inefficiency and medical errors," said AAPS executive director Dr Jane Orient, "but the costly, clunky systems that the government demands are worsening the problems and even driving some software experts back to paper."

Responses from 100 patients were also highly unfavorable: 83 percent said the EHR compromises confidentiality, 62 percent that it is a cash cow for data miners, 52 percent that it compromises patient care, 45 percent that it endangers patient safety, and only 8 percent that it improves patient care.

Of 305 comments, very few were positive. Many complained of inefficiency and loss of productivity: "I am now about 30 percent less efficient that I was, even though we are now using scribes," said one respondent.

Respondents also said that EHRs often facilitate errors. One physician complained: "I have made more errors since our conversion to the EHR than in the 38 years previous to that time."

Many physicians do not trust the accuracy of the records: "Electronic medical records are really electronic medical lies," said one. Another observed that "mistakes cannot be corrected or deleted, just 'hidden,' according to our IT folks."

One patient complained that the EHR has pediatricians asking inappropriate questions of unaccompanied 13-year-olds, and recording potentially damaging statements.

"They make it imperative to teach kids that they should ignore or dissemble when people ask them inappropriate questions," the patient stated.

The EHR also makes it difficult to find important data in a mass of irrelevancy, many reported. "The federal government should have no role in telling how physicians how to keep their records," Orient said.

AAPS, Electronic Health Record, US, The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons