EHR Responsible for Unrecognized Ebola Case?

EHR Responsible for Unrecognized Ebola Case?

As I am finalizing preparation for PRMS’ national CME seminar on technology in San Francisco on October 18, I saw the headlines about the hospital EHR flaw that is being mentioned in the press as a reason for the Ebola patient’s initial release from the hospital and the resulting public harm threat. From CNBC:

“’The hospital Thursday night said when Duncan was first examined Sept. 25 by a nurse, he was asked a series of questions, including whether he had traveled outside of the U.S. in the prior month. ‘He said that he had been in Africa,” the hospital said in a statement. ‘The nurse entered that information in the nursing portion of the electronic medical record.’ But it turns out that answer—which could have alerted doctors of the possibility Duncan had Ebola—was not relayed electronically to them because of ‘a flaw’ in the way doctors’ workflow portions of the electronic health records interacts with the nursing portions of the EHR, the hospital initially said, but later recanted without further clarification.” (accessed 10/5/14)

Of course it is not fair to jump to any conclusions until all of the facts are known. However, this is a very scary potential example of the adverse effect on safety that can be caused by EHRs. We will be discussing other examples of EHRs causing patient harm in our upcoming San Francisco Technology in Practice seminar.

Wondering about what we’ll cover in the seminar? Take this short True – False quiz:

  1. Skype is fine to use for telepsychiatry sessions.
  2. States are fairly consistent in regulating physician’s use of telepsychiatry.
  3. There have been no lawsuits involving a physician’s change from paper records to an EHR system.
  4. State licensing boards are not interested in disciplining physicians for inappropriate social media activities.
  5. Contributing to listservs that are open only to clinicians is not a risky activity.

If you are not sure of your answers, check out my upcoming posts. If you would like to attend our San Francisco risk management seminar, we’d love to have you! The seminar will also be repeated in Philadelphia on November 22. For more information, visit

Donna Vanderpool, MBA, JD – Vice PresidentAs Vice President of Risk Management, Ms. Vanderpool is responsible for the development and implementation of PRMS’s risk management services for The Psychiatrists’ Program. Ms. Vanderpool has developed expertise in the areas of HIPAA and forensic practice, and has consulted, written and spoken nationally on these and other healthcare law and risk management topics. She most recently wrote a chapter concerning the risks of harm to forensic experts for Robert L. Sadoff, MD’s book Ethical Issues in Forensic Psychiatry: Minimizing Harm, (Feb. 2011/Wiley). Ms. Vanderpool received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University, and her MBA and JD from George Mason University. Prior to joining PRMS in 2000, Ms. Vanderpool practiced criminal defense law, taught business and legal courses as an adjunct faculty member at a community college and spent eight years managing a general surgical practice in Virginia.

This blog has also been cross-posted on LinkedIn.


4300 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22203
(800) 245-3333  |

Professional Risk Management Services® © 2024

Actual terms, coverages, conditions and exclusions may vary by state and are subject to underwriting. Insurance coverage provided by
Fair American Insurance and Reinsurance Company (FAIRCO), New York, NY (NAIC 35157). FAIRCO is an authorized carrier in California, ID number 3715-7.
PRMS, The Psychiatrists' Program and the PRMS Owl are registered Trademarks of Transatlantic Holdings, Inc., a parent company of FAIRCO.