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California's medical record index may lead to medical malpractice

Electronic medical records may indeed be the way of the future, but the system is far from perfect. Hackers have already managed to steal medical records from at least one insurance company in a targeted cyberattack. However, cyberattacks are not the only things that put California patients at risk for record-related medical malpractice. One insurance company's voluntary actions may have compromised the safety of millions of patients.

The California Integrated Data Exchange was created by two popular insurance companies and was funded by the premiums of policyholders. At a cost of $80 million, the Cal INDEX is intended to make electronic sharing of records between various medical professionals seamless. Unfortunately, Cal INDEX may not be able to perform as intended.

The CEO conceded that matching patients with their own medical records is no easy task, especially when hundreds of people with the same name share the exact same birthdate. Even if the records are matched correctly, no records from care in other states are included, and especially important aspects of a person's medical history -- like HIV status or treatment for addiction -- are not included. There also do not seem to be any parameters set in place to prevent doctors from viewing the records of a patient who they do not actually treat. 

In order to treat patients in the most appropriate fashion possible, health care providers need to be aware of all pre-existing conditions, prior treatments and current medications. While the Cal INDEX's intention may have been noble, the poor execution of the system has put 9 million people in California at risk of receiving improper treatment because their doctor simply did not know the whole story. When this type of incident leads to permanent injury or long-lasting pain and suffering, victims are often justified in pursuing legal recourse through a successfully navigated medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: dailynews.com, "State's medical-records system could be hazardous to your health: Susan Shelley", Susan Shelley, May 1, 2015

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