According to the Florida Board of Medicine earlier this month, electronic medical systems incorrectly used or improperly designed emr programs may actually be creating more patient care errors than the old hand-written ones that they are designed to replace.

“Doctors are being inundated by vendors who are selling newly developed electronic medical record systems, some better than others” says Dr. Steven Rosenberg, a West Palm Beach dermatologist. He further points out “I think the Department of Health needs to put out a warning to physicians that they need to look at their programs’ default settings”.

The thing is that using templates, patient encounters have stated that certain abnormalities were normal by reverting to the original defaults of the program.  Legs have been reported as fine for amputees and abnormal pap smears have been missed until the disease has spread unchecked and untreated.

With physicians being pushed into converting to electronic records or getting further reduction in Medicare reimbursements, they may also  inadvertently become involved in inefficient systems.

So, will we all be helped or harmed in the short run?