Frustration could not even begin to describe the look on my mother’s face during a recent trip to a local lab here in Atlanta to get some diagnostic tests run.
The lab had lost all their electronic records, along with my mother’s, and they could not run a check of her blood in a timely fashion. This was a procedure they had no problem completing in 20 minutes, just three weeks prior.
Apparently, it was some type of system outage and the lab was unable to recover all the data. They would gladly take her information again, but there were certain things that they needed to verify and the process could be a bit lengthy they told her.
The response she fired back with was priceless – “don’t you write these things down on paper?”
And herein lies the core issue with electronic health records (EHR). While on paper it might seem like a great idea, in reality some hospitals and labs are ill equipped to properly handle these documents. Now accidents will occur of course, but what happens when you lose all of a patient’s records? What happens when the computers systems are down and physicians are unable to temporarily access records?
Certainly I’m not advocating ditching EHRs, but I am asking that hospitals be a bit more practical in there use. There needs to be strong fail safes put in place when these situations occur.
The realm of EHRs is certainly new to some physicians, but imagine how new it is for a lot of patients they serve. There need to be more concerted efforts to reach out to patients to discuss the ins and outs of EHRs.