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Software causes problems for physicians and their patients

Most doctors value technology and respect it as it improves their tools for saving lives. However, despite this attitude and physicians being among the most tech-literate professionals in Illinois and the United States, many of them dislike their experience with computers in the workplace.

Electronic medical records (EMR) software is a big business, with every practice and hospital requiring a system, but many of them having pitfalls for the users. One specific program was designed to customize records based on the greatest calculated risks to patients. A doctor says it has only made it harder to treat patients.

The program gives each patient a "problem list" of conditions related to their complaints. The doctor edits it carefully once a condition has been eliminated, but other staff in the hospital may modify the lists as well. Some physicians will relate symptoms to different ailments, creating a confusing mess of information and assumption.

"They're long, they're deficient, they're redundant," the doctor said. "Now I come to look at a patient, I pull up the problem list, and it means nothing." Doctors' notes, previously short handwritten notes to the point, are now additions onto blocks of information that take longer to process, which can cost precious time in an urgent care setting.

It is conceivable that technology problems can cause a failure of proper care for a patient, which could lead to unnecessary procedures or an error that could cost recovery time or even a life. The victims of medical errors have the right to seek restitution, and legal representation can make this difficult process easier for patients and their families.

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