While electronic health records (EHRs) offer many advantages, some doctors are simply copying and pasting old, potentially out-of-date information into patients' EHRs, according to an article by Reuters Health.
The article cites a study from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine outlining concerns about shortcuts doctors are taking that could result in poor communication and treatment errors (Critical Care Medicine, December 20, 2012). Many electronic recordkeeping systems allow text to be copied and pasted from previous notes and other documents, Reuters noted.
The researchers analyzed 2,068 patient progress reports completed by 62 residents and 11 physicians at a Cleveland hospital's intensive care unit. They used plagiarism-detection software to analyze reports for 135 patients during a five-month span.
They found that in 82% and 74% of the notes taken by the residents and the physicians, respectively, at least 20% of the content was copied and pasted. The impact on patient care or the rationale for these actions was not considered.
Another study noted that briefly retelling a patient's history in a progress report is commonplace, the article noted. It found that, among 50 physician practices utilizing five EHR programs, copying and pasting was not unusual.