Nitin Chhoda differentiates between malpractice and negligence. They may seem connected to each other but they can be experienced by the practice individually, and it is important to avoid these two lawsuits from occurring.
Physical therapy healthcare practice management is no exception.
In the year 2000 in South Carolina, Smith v. United States established that the type of liability a hospital or medical practice can be held accountable for when transitioning to medical records only includes negligence and not malpractice.
However, the point is well taken; your transition to a medical EMR should be done with the utmost care and attention to detail.
Smith v. United States
The legally significant decision in the case of Smith v. United States determined that hospitals can be held liable for malpractice and negligence in the case of mismanaged electronic medical records.
That means that when you transition from paper to electronic records, it is the responsibility of the hospital or practice to ensure the patient information is handled carefully and responsibly.
However, it is unlikely that the mishandling of patient information will be deemed medical malpractice. Malpractice refers to the incorrect treatment of patients by a medical practitioner.
This can be improper, negligent, or illegal professional activity, but it applies to the clinician rather than the hospital or practice, unless the practice is aware of the malpractice and does nothing to stop the clinician.
Responsibility for Patient Information
Electronically stored information is already fairly standard in most medical practices. Even without an EMR, it is likely that you keep all client details on a computer and even use the system for scheduling and other routine tasks.
However, it is also likely that the program and system that the information is stored on is not accessible from the Internet. The difference with most modern and effective EMR systems is that you will be able to access sensitive patient information from anywhere, as long as you have a mobile device and an Internet connection.
It is the responsibility of the practice to protect delicate and personal patient information. If that information is stolen or accessible by individuals who are not authorized to view patient information, the practice must demonstrate that all reasonable precautions were taken to avoid the problem or they will be liable for negligence.
Malpractice and Negligence
If a clinician willfully misuses the EMR, it may be considered malpractice and negligence and if practice management are aware of the misuse, the practice may also be liable for malpractice.
However, the primary concern for clinicians as well as practice management is the potential for malpractice and negligence within the new system and during the process of transitioning from paper to electronic medical records.
Not only are the clinicians and practice liable for negligence if there is a leak of information, but they are also responsible for providing the necessary documentation to determine guilt or innocence.
If the practice believes that necessary malpractice and negligence precautions were taken, they must also demonstrate that those precautions were taken. It is on the charged party to prove there is no cause for a legal suit.