Errors From 'Copy and Paste' a Big Factor in Medical Malpractice Cases Report Finds

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One of the things that’s helping to improve the medical field to new heights is also contributing to medical malpractice facts.

No one ever wants to be in the position to require medical malpractice lawyers, but it’s an unfortunate part of society. According to medical malpractice statistics from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical negligence, which includes some birth injury statistics (28,000 every year), is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind only heart disease and cancer.

Most of the time, people associate the work medical malpractice lawyers do with determining where/when the doctor, surgeon, or healthcare professional physically did something wrong or negligent to their patient. Surgery errors are the number one basis for inpatient claims and accounted for about 34% of medical malpractice claims in a recent study. That’s not always the case though.

A new report from the nonprofit Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety has found that administrative duties that specifically rely on copy and paste tactics are real problems when it comes to proper patient care.

According to, doctors and physicians will typically use the same template for entering patient information. Instead of creating a new one every time, though, a common practice is to copy and paste the existing template from another patient’s records.

It might seem like a harmless act that can help with speed/efficiency, which it certainly can, the study found that it can also lead to errors when prior information doesn’t get removed or correctly altered. This can lead to misdiagnosis’ and ultimately a lot of problems that could require a medical malpractice lawyer.

“It’s a huge problem,” said Dr. Dean Sittig, a professor at UT-Health School of Biomedical Informatics in Houston and a member of the group. “People are doing it all the time.”

While this study is shedding new light on the problem, it’s certainly not an entirely new idea. In fact, the federal government has previously warned providers that if nearly identical notes are found repeated over the course of a patient’s treatment or among patients with similar diagnoses they will deny Medicare payments to the providers.

“(The medical record) is a legal document, so when things go wrong and people see evidence that stuff was copied and pasted, it doesn’t go well,” said Dr. Hardeep Singh, chief of the Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He did explain that it’s easy to sometimes see why a doctor would want to save time in their busy schedule by eliminating documentation work for a patient they see regularly.

“If I have diabetes, hepatitis and asthma today, it’s likely I’ll have diabetes, hepatitis and asthma six months from now.”

Knowing how to identify medical malpractice can be difficult, but if you believe an error was made during your treatment, either in practice or of administrative/clerical-type, it’s important to protect yourself and family by contacting our team of professionals.

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