On May 25, 2012 an article was published on Dr. Bicuspid titled “Do electronic records pose new ethics challenges?” This article opened up the idea that electronic health records are causing students to face more technical ethics issues in addition to the long standing academic ethical pressures.
A study published in the Journal of Dental Education by Dr. John Valenza, DDS and Dr. Robert Cederberg, DDS brings forth the issue of ethical challenges with EHRs in a dental school setting. Though there are many benefits to EHRs, the problem arises when technology allows students more of an opportunity to cheat. Many schools offer a number of different users access to patient information, potentially harming the privacy of the patient. However, precautions are already in place with encryption of records. In some systems, any change to any record creates a HIPPA audit trail to ensure all changes are ethical.
This technology is also contributing to poor doctor-patient relationships. In school, we tend to become distracted by every detail of the EHR that we neglect to give patients the attention they deserve.
Another important point Drs. Valenza and Cederberg discuss is the lack of ethics training in a clinic atmosphere in dental school. The more effective training we receive, the better we can manage EHRs and understand how to refrain from an ethical mishap.
How do you feel about Electronic Health Records? Does your school offer adequate clinical ethics training?
~Katie Sowa, Electronic Editor, Houston ’15