As part of the 2009 economic stimulus passed by Congress, $6.6 billion dollars was set aside for health care providers to switch from paper to electronic health records. To date nearly $4 billion of this set aside money has been used. However, a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services has found that although many doctors and hospitals have taken advantage of this money, there are currently no safeguards in place to insure that this money is not being misused.
While updating and optimizing medical records is an important goal, it is also important that safeguards are in place to make sure that such a substantial amount of money is actually being used for the purposes prescribed.
In our practice, which relies heavily on medical records to prove damages in injury cases, or negligence in professional negligence cases, the records are critical. One benefit of the record being computerized is legibility and easier interpretation. One of the risks—manipulation of the records—does occur, but can be investigated when suspected by experts reviewing the “metadata” underlying the records.