Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Electronic Medical Records Revisited

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Electronic Medical Records Revisited

Article excerpt

The rush to digitize medical records resulted from a farrago of ostensible benefits: they are legible and do not get lost; they are more convenient and universally comprehensive; they protect against toxic drug interactions; they diminish error; they are portable; they allow for easier bookkeeping; they are marketed and sold by companies that earn a substantial profit; and they are highly subsidized by the US government. Who would be so foolish as to argue against these obvious benefits to doctors, organizations, corporations, and patients. Well, thinkers who are not confused by pragmatic necessities: those who care about privacy; those who prefer not to have medical histories broadcast across the Internet and made too easily available even to legitimate users; and those who care about personal rather than electronic medical interactions.

Now it turns out that the practical advantages of these digitized records are counterbalanced by some unseemly medical practices. Leora Horwitz, an internist who teaches at Yale University's medical school, points out, in an Op-Ed piece, that doctors abuse the system by recording results of examinations and discussions that have not taken place. This occurs because all the doctor must do is click a button. Physicians apparently also copy and paste, sometimes from colleagues' documentation. Medicare costs have increased dramatically and administrators think that this has occurred because of electronic recording misuse. Horwitz believes that much of this abuse takes place because of financial incentives ("A Shortcut to Wasted Time," The New York Times, November 23, 2012, A27). …

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