Viewpoint: Audit trails can reveal when medical records have been forged, altered

Audit trails of EHRs can be used to verify testimony from hospital clinicians in cases of medical malpractice lawsuits, according to medical malpractice attorney Robert Painter.

In an Oct. 4 blog post on Painter Law Firm's website, Mr. Painter, a former hospital administrator, wrote about the use of audit trails. Medical malpractice lawyers often tap audit trails of EHRs to help with investigating their cases.

Audit trails are useful when there's an issue with the accuracy of the medical records. "It could be that a [physician] or nurse noted false things that never happened," Mr. Painter wrote. "It could be that there's a mysterious gap of time where there was no documentation. Or it could be that the records appear to have been faked, forged or altered."

To curb false EHR documentation or lack of documentation, Mr. Painter recommends patients and family members maintain a real-time journal or personal record of physician visits, hospitalizations, prescriptions and test results, among other personal health information.

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