EHR Legal Implications Still Too Complex to Define

EHR Legal Implications Still Too Complex to Define


As Electronic Health Record or EHR use rises, and more health care data is kept in electronic systems, the legal implications of how that information is gained and use also continue to increase. At the same time, provider organizations are also increasingly wondering how their liability will be affected.

During the 2011 Legal EHR Summit hosted by the American Health Information Management Association or AHIMA, health care IT professionals pointed out that in the mad scramble to implement EHR and encourage its use, the medical industry has not completely considered how those systems are treated legally.

According to Adam Greene, a partner with Davis Wright as well as a former senior health IT and privacy expert in the Office for Civil Rights, the EHR by itself is still very hard to define. He also pointed out that EHR is very difficult to regulate. However, he believes that this situation offers a unique opportunity for involved parties to innovate in what is seen as a long road toward setting up a learning health system.

Greene said in his presentation during the summit that EHR adoption “is not the destination,” rather, “that is only the beginning.

It is getting beyond simple EHR use that medical liability becomes more complex and trickier. Many providers are suspicious of how electronic information alters malpractice risk.

The Center for Studying Health System Change, in a 2009 survey of physicians, shows that many doctors believe they will be involved in a lawsuit within the next ten years. The survey also indicated that they must, to a greater extent, rely on technology instead of their judgment to assist them in making clinical diagnoses and steer clear of malpractice threats.