The Damaging Ripple Effect of Medical Record Data Duplication

Updated on March 2, 2023

Medical records are the documents of a patient’s medical history, including tests and lab results, physical examination results, x-rays, pre-and post-operative treatment, consent forms, notes from physicians, medicine prescriptions, and other important information. Since an accurate medical history can mean the difference between life and death, it’s essential that all information be recorded accurately.

To comply with federal regulations, all healthcare providers in the United States must implement a certified electronic health record (EHR) system by 2015. This requirement was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, passed in 2009. Your patient’s health history is documented in these electronic health records.  

The Impact of Duplication

EHRs may also include communications between healthcare providers, such as emails sent between a doctor and a patient. This information is critical for the doctor, the patient, and the healthcare team. These electronic records, if properly written, will assist the clinician in determining the appropriateness of treatment.

However, serious risks are involved when doctors treat patients based on incorrect information. According to the American Health Information Management Association, hospitals maintain 5-10 percent of duplicate patient records. 

In addition, up to $40 million is lost due to duplicate medical data in healthcare systems. More seriously, duplicate medical records sent to doctors might cause serious harm to patients in the following situations.

Inappropriate Treatment

Duplicate medical records occur when two or more patient records belonging to the same patient are kept. There is a chance that vital information about the patient, such as their medical history, allergies, blood type, current medications, blood, and test results, will be missing from the duplicate record. 

Duplicated patient records can lead to serious mistakes being made during treatment. Duplicate medical records increase the risk of inaccurate diagnoses, unnecessary testing, and incorrect surgical procedures. 

For example, people with stable cardiovascular disease are sometimes subjected to unnecessary interventions. Angioplasty and stent insertion are two examples of these costly medical treatments.  These unnecessary stents can put you at risk for blood clots, bleeding from anti-clotting drugs, and arterial obstructions caused by scarring. According to a meta-analysis, stents aren’t any better than medical therapy for preventing heart attacks or deaths in patients with stable coronary artery disease.

Wrong Referrals

A referral from a primary care physician is a formal request for additional medical attention from a specialist. Referral processes can get complicated and include a lot of steps. Most health insurance plans mandate referrals to ensure that individuals see the most appropriate doctors for their conditions. 

Understanding a patient’s medical record can have an impact on referrals. Medical records help healthcare practitioners decide whether to treat patients or send them to more specialized healthcare providers. It can also aid in diagnosing illnesses that may be prevented through lifestyle changes.

However, duplicates may leave out critical information. These duplicates can have severe consequences for many areas of healthcare, including referrals, registration, the billing system, and, most importantly, patient safety.

A study involving patients aged 65 and up found that nearly half of all medical specialist referrals were never followed up on. These outcomes are likely the result of multiple process mistakes, such as inadequate data collection, incorrect referrals, and poor communication. Technology has great potential to enhance the referral procedure.

Poor Tracking and Monitoring of Patients

Tracking patients helps reduce wasteful hospital spending and improves the quality of care given to each patient. Monitoring can also improve patient safety and communication and reduce the chance of a medical error. However, keeping track of patients can be problematic if their medical records contain duplicate information. 

A healthcare facility may have numerous copies of a patient’s record due to human error, improper matching, different spellings of the same name, or a failure to transmit data between systems properly.

Duplicated patient medical records present a challenge for healthcare practitioners in tracking and monitoring treatment progress. Fortunately, automated technologies like RPA healthcare help guarantee patients’ records are taken and preserved correctly, so they can get the care they need. Patient tracking is a relatively new technology in healthcare that has revolutionized how hospitals manage patient admissions, treatments, and discharges.

RPA Is the Solution

There is an immediate need to address the danger that duplicate medical records present to the healthcare system. Human error and data duplication due to manual data entry plague the healthcare industry, but these problems can be alleviated by assigning repetitive tasks to robots. 

When applied to the healthcare industry, RPA technology could streamline data processing and improve patient treatment quality. Robotic process automation allows healthcare providers to serve more people and provide better care for existing patients without significantly increasing their budgets. 

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