Liability concerns among physicians is a key issue when it comes to implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems since workflow changes undoubtedly occur. However, Medicare and Medicaid physicians who’ve gone through implementation could be in line for protection if those concerns surface.
Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) introduced legislation that would offer legal protections for Medicare and Medicaid physicians who deployed EHR systems. The bill would establish a reporting system for would-be medical errors during EHR use. Those errors could not be used as legal ammo for wrongdoing on patients.
Marino has titled the bill the “Safeguarding Access for Every Medicare Patient Act.” By offering incentives in the form of legal protections to providers to participate in electronic recordkeeping, Marino said, would facilitate greater EHR use. Additionally, it would convince physicians displeased about low reimbursement rates to remain in the federal Medicare program and federal-state Medicaid program.
Additionally, the bill would cover certain physicians and hospitals that serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. It also would cover participants and users of health information exchanges.
The idea of using data to find medical errors, and exchanging that information among providers to identify and fix mistakes, is not new. Under a previous law, patient-safety organizations have been established to do just that; however, providers remain concerned that reported errors might be used against them. But patient-safety advocates encourage transparency and open communication among doctors and patients, saying honesty has the potential to reduce legal action.
While the latest bill is not expected to be passed anytime soon, the support — along with some help from the meaningful use program’s monetary incentives — could in theory increase EHR adoption.