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Dangers of eHealth still need addressing

As the date moves closer for the delivery of a nationwide eHealth program to store and share patient information, experts warn that the system needs to be in line with operational realities if it is going to deliver results.

From July 1, medical practitioners and consumers will be given the option to have their records rendered into digital formats and stored in a centralised database.

The program’s designers have said that this will result in better care across the country, as professionals will be able to access the information more quickly and will be able to make decisions based on the latest details.

Medical negligence lawyers know that a significant number of deaths in hospital are the result of poor communication and slow response times – factors that the eHealth system aims to improve.

In addition, the speed and accuracy of professional responses are also important – as failing to act in time can be as dangerous to some patients as basing procedures on incorrect information.

Sometimes these can result in what is known as ‘sentinel events’ where the victim has a procedure performed that is incorrect, unnecessary or in some cases takes place on the wrong side of their body.

This means that clear, accurate case histories and immediate access to legible records can be vital to a successful procedure.

However, an article in the Medical Journal of Australia from April this year has criticised some of the controls being put in place that could affect the consistency of the information recorded.

“It is not yet possible to make any definitive statement about whether the personally controlled electronic health record is safe or not,” said the authors.

If the people who are to make use of the program are not up to date with how the technology works, there could be a chance that the program is actually better for some practitioners that their current frameworks.

While  many industry professionals acknowledge the important roles played by information technology in managing a medical practice efficiently, there is a fear that a disconnect between user capacity and system features could result in higher costs – or even a drop in the quality of care available.

An experienced team of compensation lawyers are able to help civtims of medical negligence determine the best course of action in cases where procedures do not go entirely as planned.

© 2012 
Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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