By Federal Law, every hospital in the U.S.A has converted their medical record keeping system to a digital system. These systems are commonly known as “Electronic Medical Records” (EMR systems). Though this transition is mandatory, some specialties and facilities are not up to date with EMR systems. The implementation of digital record keeping through EMR systems is not simply convenience. EMR systems allow the ease of communication and records access between medical providers and facilities. When medical teams continue to utilize traditional paper records instead of the EMR systems, miscommunication and confusion can cause catastrophic damage to the patient. 

 

CASE STUDY

Infant Brain Injury Following Surgery

Family of injured infant seeks our help for medical error made due to paper records being used over EMR systems

Recently, we represented the family of an infant who sustained a devastating surgical infection which resulted in a brain injury. Our clients wanted to know if this occurred as a result of malpractice and we were hired to investigate.

Methods

The child’s hospital chart included nearly 10,000 pages of EMR system and paper records. During our review, we identified a communication failure that was preventable. The anesthesia staff mistakenly believed from a paper chart entry that the infant was on long-term antibiotics. As a result, the surgeon canceled the antibiotics that would have normally been given at the beginning of the surgery. Predictably, a major infection formed. This mistake would not have been discovered if our firm had not combed through the thousands of pages EMR and paper records.

The medical error was the cancellation of pre-operative antibiotics. The erroneous order occurred due to miscommunication between medical teams relying on both paper and EMR systems.

To support our theory, our firm hired a Forensic Data Expert. This expert organized hundreds of digital photographs taken over several months to create a visual timeline of the progression of the infection. This was done using digital images of the infant taken before and after the surgery, from several different mobile devices. The visual timeline demonstrated very clearly how the medical team ignored signs of a progressing infection, as revealed by the photos of the child’s declining condition.

Conclusion

In this case, our investigation and aggressive litigation of the case led to the hospital’s attorneys eventually acknowledging the error. The case resolved soon after. The settlement will provide the child with lifelong medical care and support. Our client and our firm also asked the hospital to implement changes to prevent this type of mistake from happening again to another child. 

One of the ways we can best serve our clients is by finding answers.  Those answers often lead to a favorable resolution. If you believe you or your loved one has been subjected to medical malpractice or sustained an injury due to improper medical reporting, please contact our office for a free consultation.