Canadian Doctors: E-records Help Prevent Medical Errors

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There is no denying that we live in an electronic era, and professionals in virtually every field, including the legal profession, have utilized new and helpful technologies to provide services. One area in which technological advancement has been particularly helpful is the medical field, though not all doctors have found the path to digitalization to be without obstacles.

According to the 2014 National Physician Survey, the percentage of Canadian doctors who say they use electronic records to access or enter patient information has tripled since 2007. Now 75 per cent of doctors say they use desktop or laptop computers to access or enter patient notes. More than 10,000 doctors throughout the country responded to the survey, and 65 per cent of respondents said that quality of care had become better or much better since the doctors started using electronic records. Compared to a year ago, that percentage represents a nine-point increase.

Commonly cited benefits of digital medical records include quicker access to lab results, remote access to patient charts, medication alerts to prevent adverse drug reactions and avoidance of duplicate testing. Doctors can also electronically access records to see if a patient has been treated at a hospital, a walk-in clinic or a specialist's clinic.

This kind of system did not exist prior to digital record-keeping. While there are certainly benefits to electronic medical records, getting a system up and running can take a great deal of effort, especially for doctors who for years have used a paper-based system. The task could involve scanning and digitally organizing thousands of paper files.

There are also other obstacles. Fifty-two per cent of survey respondents said they encountered technical glitches; 46 per cent reported that different electronic systems were incompatible; and 26 per cent reported security and firewall issues.

At Gluckstein Lawyers, we are committed to protecting patients from medical errors and helping patients get the care they need. Sometimes, however, doctors and nurses fail in their duty to provide timely and appropriate care, and it becomes necessary to access complex medical evidence to determine what went wrong.

Electronic records are one way of preventing medical mistakes and pinpointing errors when they do occur.



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