Medical Malpractice

Modern medical practice relies heavily on technology for its smooth operation: health records are stored digitally, cutting-edge medical equipment produces electronic images, and medical staff record every appointment for months to come on a computerized calendar. Deep integration of technology with medicine means that electronic evidence can often serve as a smoking gun that supports or refutes claims of medical malpractice. DisputeSoft provides a wide variety of computer forensics services to assist counsel in uncovering factual information as it relates to such claims of malpractice.

Electronic Medical Records and Electronic Health Records

An electronic medical record (EMR) is a digital version of a patient’s clinical data utilized by a single practice. An electronic health record (EHR) is a more comprehensive digital version of a patient’s medical history designed to be shared across multiple healthcare providers. Each of these electronic systems stores a very large amount of patient information and a record of diagnoses, tests, and care as provided.

By examining these records (and their corresponding metadata), a computer forensics expert may be able to uncover evidence that supports or refutes claims of alleged malpractice or negligence. Especially important is the Audit Trail data required to be maintained by each system.  DisputeSoft’s experts can determine which user created, altered, accessed or exported a digital file, as well as when such actions occurred. Correlating the Audit Trail with the base records will often expose after-the-fact adjustments of the patient record. In certain situations, our experts are able to detect that records may have been withheld from the required production.

Information uncovered and preserved using such methods may be invaluable to the medical experts assisting a party in determining whether a medical professional or an institution met the required standard of care. DisputeSoft forensic examiners can also determine whether a practice is in compliance with the record-keeping procedures enumerated by such laws as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).

In actual cases, DisputeSoft’s forensic specialists have detected:

  • destruction of crucial ultrasound images that should have been produced
  • alteration of the Audit Trail to prevent detection of data changes made, and
  • omission of pages from production of the Permanent Medical Record created by the EHR system.

Two cases have required recovery of deleted images so that medical experts could obtain a view of data that was previously lost.

DisputeSoft has served as an independent expert in EMR and EHR disputes for hospitals, clinics, physician and dental practices, government insurance exchanges, software developers, and systems integrators. Our EMR and EHR experts have investigated a wide variety of medical malpractice disputes in a mix of cases, sometimes assisting patients and sometimes the medical practices.

Healthcare Systems & Software

A practice’s computer system can contain terabytes of information about a practice and its patients, and failure of this system could prove highly damaging to both parties. Loss of electronic medical records, inability to provide copies of patient history, heightened security breach vulnerability, and encryption failure are all serious violations of HIPAA that can result from a medical system failure. When a practice’s computer system fails, our software experts can uncover the cause of the failure, which may support or refute allegations of malpractice due to negligence in properly maintaining the system.

System updates can inadvertently alter electronic medical information, sometimes even deleting documents and files. In a dispute regarding documents deleted during standard updates or changes within an existing system, DisputeSoft’s experts can recover lost documents and associated metadata. In a dispute involving a legacy system migration, our experts can often revive the old system to retrieve and examine relevant patient history and records.

To learn more about DisputeSoft’s experience with healthcare and medical malpractice disputes, please click here.