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EHR and health care fraud: Vendors, doctors face charges

Software companies marketed electronic health record (EHR) programs as a way to help better ensure quality patient care. In theory, the software would provide accurate, up to date patient records that were readily available to the treating physician. In reality, flaws in some EHR programs led to dangerous errors.

How serious were the errors?

The government claims flaws in the software led to delays in retrieving patient records. This led to sometimes dangerous delays in care. In other cases, the software mixed up patients’ information or provided incomplete records.

The government states these errors potentially contributed to patient injury and death.

How did the DOJ support claims software companies were guilty of health care fraud?

According to the Department of (DOJ), some software companies were cheating the system. The government put together a certification program to determine which software companies provided an EHR program that benefited the patients. Those that received certification qualified for government benefits. A number of these companies, according to the government, made false claims to receive certification. This led to allegations of health care fraud.

When presented with the evidence, multiple EHR software vendors chose to settle the claims instead of defending them in court.

Physicians should also take note, as these government investigations have expanded beyond software vendors and resulted in health care fraud allegations against medical professionals. In some cases, physicians and hospital could receive government benefits for using these programs. The government has filed claims against physicians and hospitals it claims falsely stated they were using the programs.