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Charting delays can trigger malpractice claims

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2022 | Blog, Medical Malpractice

Doctors are busy people who manage many important tasks. Their mishandling of responsibilities by way of fatigue, ignorance or carelessness can have disastrous outcomes for their patients.

One common task in health care is the process of documenting and updating patient files. Delays in charting may not seem like a big deal until forgetfulness threatens the well-being of innocent people.

The danger of waiting

A recent article posted to Urology Times warns physicians that charting delays could end in medical malpractice. One example detailed the experience of a man who visited a local hospital complaining of pain in his lower back. Doctors prescribed pain medication which appeared to resolve the problem. However, not long after his first visit, the man returned to the hospital unresponsive. Subsequent tests revealed the man’s death was the result of a dissecting thoracic aneurysm.

The emergency room doctor who initially helped the man did not update his charts until the man’s second visit. The ED described how he had suspected the man had a thoracic aneurysm, but due to the man’s anxiety of undergoing an x-ray, they ran no further tests. However, the man’s wife disputed these claims and investigators later found discrepancies that showed that the ED’s late entry was partly fabricated. This resulted in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The value of timeliness

Timely data entry can provide any attending physician with everything they need to know about a patient’s health history. Having this information readily available can reduce confusion and missteps resulting from miscommunication. Another reason for timely entry is to reduce the risks of forgetfulness. Given the number of patients, doctors see each day, waiting until the end of shift to update charts can result in forgetfulness. The outcome can include inaccuracies which lead to serious problems including misdiagnosis, prescription errors and missing information regarding a patient’s treatment.

Patients seeking compensation for preventable injuries resulting from malpractice may benefit from hiring an attorney. No one deserves to live a lower quality life because of the mistakes of a medical professional.

Source: Urology Times, “Malpractice Consult: Delays in charting can lead to lawsuits, financial consequences,” Kenton H. Steele, January 25, 2022

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