Running head: ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS VERSUS PAPER RECORDS 1
ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS 5
Electronic Medical Records versus Paper Records
This essay is being submitted on June 14, 2018 for Rebecca Sims’ G124 English Composition course.
Electronic Medical Records versus Paper Records
An unfortunate incident befell the Bradley Hospital and Sea Little Hospital. Both hospitals suffered an intense fire, which resulted in much destruction. The Bradley Hospital keeps paper-based records and no digital backups. Hence, most of their records were lost. However, the Sea Little Hospital keeps electronic medical records as well as paper-based records. Therefore, although their paper-based records were destroyed, they are still in possession of a digital copy. With the advancements in technology, hospitals and medical facilities are contemplating the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) as opposed to paper-based medical records because of the following reasons: privacy, it can be easily transferred between hospitals and it reduces the confusion between pharmacies and hospital.
Electronic Medical Records furnish more privacy and confidentiality to a patient’s personal information. EMR storage systems are generally much more secure than paper-based storage systems. “A second limitation of the paper-based medical record was the lack of security. Access was controlled by doors, locks, identification cards, and tedious sign-out procedures for authorized users. Unauthorized access to patient information triggered no alerts, nor was it known what information had been viewed” (Harman, Flite, and Bond, 2012, p.712). This proves that paper-based storage systems are more prone to security breaches as they are not heavily guarded nor do they have any major security system in place to provide reliable security. As a result, someone gaining unauthorized access is rather simple. Hospitals and other medical facilities, which keep only one copy of paper records risk the loss of a patient’s vital and personal information. They may compromise the privacy and confidentiality of the personal information of a patient. Electronic Medical Records have several security measures in place to ensure privacy. “…[D]ata can be hacked, manipulated, or destroyed by internal or external users, so security measures and ongoing educational programs must include all users. Some security measures that protect data integrity include firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection software” (Harman, Flite, and Bond, 2012, p.715). This states that there are several measures put in place to prevent a ‘digital break-in’ performed by hackers and other predators and limits the access to patient records to authorized personnel only. The data can also be protected by encryption, passwords, and biometrics (fingerprint scanner, face or retina recognition etc.).
EMRs provide greater ease in transferring files between hospitals than paper-based records. “Often, for paper medical records to be shared with those who need them, they must be recovered perhaps from a massive warehouse then mailed or scanned and sent via email a time-consuming process” (“5 Benefits of EMR vs. Paper Medical records”, 2013). As stated, the transfer of paper-based medicals files between hospitals is a very long process and requires a lot of paperwork. This can be disadvantageous in the case of an emergency, as medical files of a patient may be imperative to perform an immediate surgery. If the file is not provided in time, which it most likely would not be, the patient could die. “With electronic medical records, medical professionals have access to the data they need instantly. Time is critical in medical settings” (Daniel Kivatinos, 2013). Electronic medical records provide the convenience of sharing patient information with other medical facilities almost instantaneously via electronic transmission or direct access to a storage system. Having electronic medical records saves medical professionals the inconvenience of having to wait extended periods of time for a file which he or she could have access to in a matter of seconds or minutes. The use of EMRs could save a patient’s life in the case of an emergency.
It is a known fact that most doctors have a reputation for poor handwriting. Paper-based medical records can cause confusion between hospitals and pharmacies; similarly, meaning that a doctor failing to have a presentable handwriting can cause confusion to a pharmacist resulting in a patient receiving an incorrect medicine or dosage. “Medical prescription errors by health professionals cause a serious public health problem and these errors sometime become a threat to patient’s life. It is known that incomplete or omitted information in the prescription and poor handwriting leads to numerous errors” (Albarrak, Abdulrahman Al Rashidi, Fatani, Ibrahim Al Ageel and Mohammed, 2014). Pharmacists may make mistakes filling out prescriptions because they have trouble in understanding what is written. On some occasions, when writing prescriptions, medical practitioners omit information because the prescription slip has insufficient space to write all the required information. “Electronic prescription systems allow the prescribers to send the prescriptions directly to the pharmacy, which have immediate benefits of improving legibility and completeness and eliminating transcription errors” (Albarrak, Abdulrahman Al Rashidi, Fatani, Ibrahim Al Ageel and Mohammed, 2014). This in turn reduces the risk of patients receiving the incorrect prescriptions and reduces the time in which they receive the prescription. Electronic Medical Records provide sufficient space for detailed prescriptions and are easy to read. Therefore, Electronic Medical Records are better for a patient’s health. Medical errors made by doctors or pharmacists may threaten a patient’s life. Therefore, medical records should be computerized.
The advancements in technology increases hospitals and medical facilities need to use electronic medical records rather than paper-based medical records because of privacy and confidentiality for patient’s personal information, they are easily transferred between hospitals and it reduces the confusion between pharmacies and hospital in terms of prescriptions. Although paper can be useful, it is much more practical to use electronic medical records.
Albarrak, A.I., Abdulrahman Al Rashidi, E., Fatani, R.K., Ibrahim Al Ageel, S., Mohammed, R.
(2014). Assessment of legibility and completeness of handwritten and electronic
prescriptions. Saudi Pharmacceutical Journal,22(6),522-527.
Harman, L.B., Flite, C.A., Bond, K. (2012). Electronic health records: Privacy, confidentiality,
and security. American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, 14(9), 712-719.
Kivatinos, D. (2015, Sept 19). Paper vs. Electronic Medical Records Retrieved from
QTS data centers. (2013, March 19). 5 Benefits of EMR (Electronic Medical Records) vs. Paper
Medical Records. Retrieved from