Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Conversation: The Legal Morass Caused by the EMR

"The thing I hate about the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is my name is always there for instant recall, even if I've surrendered by care to another physician."

"Why's that?" I asked, naively.

"Well, once I was subpoenaed in a malpractice case that occurred in 2006. I last saw the patient in question in 2002. But because the lawyers asked for a copy of the medical record, the entire dump of the patient's record was provided. The lawyers took note of every treating physician in this patient's care, irrespective of treating date, and filed subpoenas for 'discovery depositions.' I had to hire a lawyer, respond, and was later released from the case, but not after significant financial and emotional anguish."

"Sheesh. I had no idea it could get that bad...", I said.

"Yep. I just wish there was a statute of limitations about how far back a lawyer could ask for a medical record to avoid these fishing expeditions..."

-Wes

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

If't "financial and emotional anguish" that you had to give a truthful statement under oath about care you gave?

That would have happened with paper records - attorneys get the patients whole history then, too.

The reason they probably went back to before the treating date was that the defense argued that the claimed damage was a preexisting condition. That's not a fishing expedition if so. Of course, the physician in your story has no idea, that's just his default position, no doubt based on his deep knowledge of the case.

The Independent Urologist said...

That is standard operating procedure for the discovery phase of a lwasuit. Perhaps your EMR made their job easier, but the attorney would have found you anyway as part of his discovery process.

Anonymous said...

Anon: the problem is that the suit will NEVER go away even if you are dropped from the case. Even the most baseless suits must be reported every time you renew privileges or apply for insurance. If only it were a matter of just testifying under oath - that's the easy part! It's the career destruction for nothing meaningful that's the hard part.

I don't understand why lawyers oppose tort reform that would make all dropped cases disappear from a doc's record forever, since they know that a dropped suit often meaningless trolling for a past condition or similar, not an actual belief that the doc did harm.

Anonymous said...

"It's the career destruction for nothing meaningful that's the hard part."

Spare us the "career destruction" line. I know of a physician who tied a woman's tubes without her consent who is still practicing. Don't tell me that receiving a subpoena to testify in a discovery deposition in SOMEONE ELSE's case is "career destruction."

"I don't understand why lawyers oppose tort reform that would make all dropped cases disappear from a doc's record forever"

This comment reflects how little you understand about the issue. Tort "reform" has nothing to do with what goes on your "record". Who even keeps this "record"? The attorneys involved and the courts have no control over what your insurers or your medical board makes you report. Tort "reform" is about one thing and one thing only - insurer profits. That's it.